8 Jan 2013

Accused rapists formally charged

9:30 am on 8 January 2013

Five men in Delhi were formally charged on Monday with the abduction, gang rape and murder of a woman.

The magistrate at Saket District Court in New Delhi ordered the hearing to be held behind closed doors after chaotic scenes as lawyers denounced one of their colleagues who had offered to defend the accused.

The next hearing will take place on Thursday. The trial is expected to be referred to a new fast-track court.

A sixth suspect, who is thought to be 17, will be tried separately in a youth court if it is confirmed he is a minor.

If convicted, the suspects could face the death penalty. Prosecutors have said they have extensive forensic evidence.

The BBC reports the five accused have been named as Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur.

Two of the suspects have offered to give evidence, possibly in return for a lighter sentence.

The woman, 23, and a male friend were attacked on a bus in south Delhi on 16 December. She died two weeks later in a hospital in Singapore.