Lawyers at an Indian court hearing the case of a fatal gang-rape which has shocked the nation said Wednesday they would refuse to defend the men accused of taking part in the assault and murder.
Hearings are expected to begin on Thursday at the Saket district court in south New Delhi, where police will formally present a 1,000-page charge sheet against the six-person gang.
"We have decided that no lawyer will stand up to defend the rape accused as it would be immoral to defend the case," Sanjay Kumar, a lawyer and a member of the Saket District Bar Council, told Agence France Presse.
Kumar said the 2,500 advocates registered at the court have decided to "stay away" to ensure "speedy justice", meaning the government would have to appoint lawyers for the defendants.
Another lawyer at the court confirmed the boycott to AFP.
The gang of rapists assaulted and murdered a woman on a bus in New Delhi last month and tried to run her over with the vehicle after the attack, reports said, citing a grisly police account of the incident.
Her boyfriend, who was beaten up and thrown off the bus after the girl had been repeatedly raped, managed to pull her to safety just in time, police are set to allege in a 1,000-page charge sheet to be presented in court on Thursday.
The 23-year-old female medical student, whose ordeal has brought simmering anger about widespread sex crime in India to the boil, bit three of her attackers as she attempted to fight them off, local newspapers and TV reports said.
These injuries on the suspects, as well as forensic evidence such a blood, semen and hair samples and the testimony of the injured boyfriend, are expected to form the main evidence against the accused, reports and police sources said.
Five men have been arrested and are expected on Thursday to formally face murder and rape charges in a fast-track court set up to try them. A sixth suspect is aged 17 and is expected to be tried in a court for juveniles.
"The woman and her friend were stripped and thrown out of the bus," The Indian Express reported. "Her friend pulled her away when he saw the bus reversing to run her over."
The Times of India newspaper said the charge sheet would likely begin with details on how the driver of the private vehicle, who allegedly took part in the rape, got his group of friends together and set out for a joyride.
One of the charges against the accused relates to the destruction of evidence, the paper said, since the driver had tried to wash the bus and had burned the clothes that were snatched from the victim.
The woman died at the weekend after a 13-day struggle to survive injuries so grievous that her intestines had to be removed. She also underwent three major surgeries and suffered a cardiac arrest before being flown to Singapore.
The brutality and horrific nature of the attack has led to protests in the capital and elsewhere, and has prompted calls for the death penalty for the rapists.
The government, which has faced a wave of public anger over the attack, on Tuesday set up a special 13-member committee to look into safety issues and review the functioning of Delhi police on a regular basis.
A panel to recommend changes to the criminal law dealing with sexual crimes was set up last week.
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