Delhi student gang-rape and death: Five accused plead not guilty

India News Bulletin Desk
Delhi gang-rape accused plead not guilty to rape and murder charges
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The five men accused of brutally gang-raping 23-year old physiotherapy student ‘Nirbhaya’ have pleaded not guilty to charges of rape and murder. The sixth suspect who is a minor is to be tried in juvenile court.

The lawyer of two of the suspects – who have been named as Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur -- said on Saturday, February 3, 2013 that the five accused pleaded not guilty before leaving the court.

The other two men have been named -- Pawan Kumar, and brothers Mukesh Singh and Ram Singh – and are represented by other lawyers. The five men made an appearance on the court with their faces covered.

On Sunday, December 16, 2012, the Delhi student was gang-raped by the six suspects on a private bus before she was injured with a metal rod and thrown out of the bus on the highway. The student died of multiple organ injuries in a hospital in Singapore a fortnight later. The brutal and callous incident ignited widespread outrage in India and the people demanded for the Indian laws to become stricter on sexual crimes.

The suspects were formally charged in a fast track court designed to bring swift justice to the victim.

The Indian government, responding to the calls of the nation, has decided to change the rape laws. Under the changes, the sentence for gang-rape will increase to a minimum of 20 years and extend to life in some cases.

The changes have to be approved by President Pranab Mukherjee and ratified by the Parliament before becoming a law. Under the current Indian rape laws, the minimum sentence is between seven and ten years, which many say does not act as a deterrent against sexual assaults on women.

The next hearing is scheduled for Tuesday, February 5 when the court will begin hearing evidence from the witnesses. According to the prosecutors, there is strong evidence against the suspects who have pleaded not guilty such as DNA matches, blood stains, and eye witness records.

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