Delhi gang rape accused face court for first time
By Rupam Jain Nair, AFPNEW DELHI--Five men appeared in court for the first time on Monday over the murder and gang rape of a 23-year-old student in New Delhi amid chaotic scenes that forced the hearing behind closed doors.
January 8, 2013, 12:01 am TWN
A court source told AFP that two of the men had offered to cooperate with prosecutors in exchange for more lenient sentences in a case that has sparked three weeks of protests and soul-searching about endemic sex crime in India.
The suspects, residents of New Delhi slums aged from 19 to 35, were brought to the court complex from the capital's high-security Tihar jail under high security due to fears for their safety.
“A chargesheet has been provided to the accused and the next hearing will be on January 10,” magistrate Namrita Aggarwal told reporters after the brief hearing.
She earlier ordered the hearing to take place behind closed doors after journalists and lawyers packed the tiny courtroom which had chairs for about 30 people but was struggling to accommodate about 150.
Some lawyers staged noisy protests against the suspects being given defense counsels after two Supreme Court advocates stepped forward offering to defend the men in order to ensure a fair trial.
“It has become completely impossible for the courtroom proceedings to proceed,” Aggarwal said in an order that forced all journalists and lawyers not connected with the case to vacate the stuffy courtroom.