Police file charges against the accused men in a New Delhi court
They are alleged to have raped a woman on a bus, leaving her with fatal injuries
The victim's father says he supports naming a tougher anti-rape law after her
Bar association leaders in the district where it happened urge lawyers not to take defendants' case
The men accused in the gang rape and killing of a 23-year-old Indian woman were formally charged with murder, rape and kidnapping in a New Delhi court Thursday, a senior police official said.
The attack on the woman, who died from her severe injuries last week, has appalled and enraged many Indians, prompting widespread debate over the way the country handles sexual assaults and the treatment of women in Indian society.
Numerous protests have taken place, new laws have been proposed and senior lawyers in the court district where the accused men have been charged say they will not represent them.
Police will submit charges against at least five of the accused men before a new fast-track court in Saket, a southern district of New Delhi, CNN affiliate IBN reported. It was unclear if the men would appear in the closed court session Thursday.
He said authorities were waiting for the outcome of a bone marrow test before deciding whether a sixth suspect in the attack, believed to be a minor, will be charged as a juvenile or an adult.
The results of the test, intended to determine the suspect’s exact age, should come soon, Nalwa said.
The trial will begin this week once all the evidence is gathered, he said.
As well as counts of murder, kidnapping and rape, the men face charges including voluntarily causing harm during a robbery, armed robbery with murder, and destruction of evidence. If convicted, several of the offenses are punishable by death or life imprisonment.
The victim, whose name has not been released, died Saturday in a Singapore hospital, where she received treatment after being airlifted from New Delhi.
The men are accused of assaulting the woman and her male companion on a bus in the Indian capital on December 16, robbing them of their belongings before dumping them at the side of a road, police said.
The male companion was eventually discharged from a local hospital.
Protests, which have been taking place every day since the woman’s death, continued Thursday in New Delhi.
Authorities plan to seek the death penalty for the accused, IBN reported, with many calls for the men to be hanged, including from the victim’s family.
If the sixth accused is confirmed to be a minor, he could be sent to a children’s home for a maximum of three years, according to IBN.
The 11 lawyers who make up the executive board of the Saket Bar Association on Wednesday vowed not to represent any of the accused assailants because of the nature of the crime.
In addition, the bar association has appealed to its 7,000 members to also refrain from representing the accused, said the association’s president, Rajpal Kasana.
“We are not taking this case on the grounds of humanity,” he said.