‘3 Delhi rape suspects to plead not guilty’

Three of the five men charged with the gang-rape and murder of a young Indian woman in New Delhi are set to enter a not guilty plea, a lawyer says.

Manohar Lal Sharma made the remarks on Thursday, before the five suspects made their second appearance in a court held behind closed doors.

The first hearing was held at a court in the Saket district of Delhi on January 7, and the suspects were given the full list of charges against them, including abduction, rape, and murder, which could bring them the death penalty.

The suspects, who have been identified as Ram Singh, Mukesh Singh, Vijay Sharma, Akshay Thakur, and Pawan Gupta are accused of attacking a 23-year-old medical student and her companion on a bus and throwing them out of the moving vehicle in New Delhi on December 16, 2012.

A sixth suspect, who is 17 years old, will be tried separately at a juvenile court if it is confirmed that he is a minor.

The raped medical student died of brain damage and massive internal injuries at a hospital in Singapore on December 29, 2012.

The horrific nature of the crime shocked Indians, who thronged the streets, demanding protection for women and capital punishment for rape, which currently carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

On January 2, Indian activists staged a rally in New Delhi, calling for death penalty for the rapists. On the same day, lawyers in the Saket district announced that they would not defend the suspects.