Five men have pleaded not guilty to 13 charges in the fatal gang rape of a woman on a New Delhi bus. The attack prompted protests across India and sparked debate about law enforcement’s ineffectiveness in helping women.
The men signed statements saying they were innocent, said a defense attorney who cannot be identified under a court-imposed gag order. A 17-year-old sixth suspect is to face trial in juvenile court. He faces a three years in a reform facility.
A conviction as an adult could have led to his execution under a new law that allows for the death penalty in fatal rape cases. That law is expected to be signed by the president and ratified by the parliament in the next week.
The five suspects who pleaded not guilty on Saturday could face the death penalty under the fast-tracked legislation. The court is to begin hearing evidence in the case on Monday.
Police say the woman was attacked after being tricked into boarding a bus Dec. 16.
Prosecutors say the driver, his brother and the other four men - the only occupants of the private bus - beat her with a metal bar, raped her and then used the bar to inflict further internal injuries on her while the vehicle was moving. A male friend who tried to help her was also beaten.The woman was dumped naked on the roadside and died from her injuries two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.
mkg/pfd (Reuters, dpa, AP)