Five men accused of the gang rape of a 23-year-old medical student in India, on December 16, have been in court today. The men attacked the young woman and her friend after they mistakenly boarded a private bus. She was terribly beaten and raped for a sustained period of time before both were thrown from the moving bus. He was also beaten in the attack. The woman has subsequently died and the case has resulted in widespread protests. The world has learned that rape in India is a common and often ignored occurence.
Six men stand accused of the attack, but one a minor, will be dealt with in a different court. If it is proven that he is aged under 17 he will be tried in a youth court. A bone marrow test was to be undertaken to definitely ascertain his age. The accused have in recent days struggled to find legal representation and they continue to widely condemned in India.
If justice is to be served, in what most of us accept is the right and proper way, the trial must go ahead.
Today's court appearance was a preliminary hearing held behind closed doors. Plans for an open court were hastily changed as chaos ensued. Strength of feeling is running high and no chances are being taken. The men appeared at a court in the region of Saket, in Delhi. They heard the charges against them which include abduction, rape and murder. If convicted of murder they could face the death penalty. Protesters, who have been on the streets of Delhi, on and off since the attack, want the death penalty to be given to convicted rapists.
The men will appear in court next on January 10 and the trial, which will follow, is expected to be referred to a new fast-track court.
Protests have continued to be heated and turn violent. Protests in the Delhi suburb of Noida, where the woman was employed in a factory, have resulted in arrests. According to the BBC Two men have been arrested and a third suspect is reported to have fled.