Five men accused of the gang rape and murder of an Indian student appeared in court on Monday to hear charges against them, after two of them offered evidence possibly in return for a lighter sentence in a case that has provoked widespread anger.
The five men, along with a teenager, are accused of raping the 23-year-old physiotherapy student when she boarded their bus after going to the cinema in New Delhi on December 16. She died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.
The attack on the student has ignited protests against the government and anger towards the police for their perceived failure to protect women. It has also provoked a rare national debate about rising violence against women.
Following rowdy scenes in the packed court, the magistrate, Namrita Aggarwal, closed the hearing to the media and the public. The court was cleared and police were posted at its doors before the accused were brought in.
“Keeping in view the sensitivity of this case that has risen, the proceedings including the inquiry and trial are to be held in camera,” Aggarwal said, before ordering people not connected with the case out of the courtroom.
A police guard said the five men had their faces covered when they entered the court, where the magistrate was due to read charges against them. The five have already been charged with murder, rape and abduction along with other offences.
Aggarwal said the next hearing would be on January 10. She did not say when the case would go to trial in a separate, fast-track court, set up after the attack on the woman.