Lawyer for two of the accused in the Delhi gang-rape trial says one man wasn't present and the other was hiding under a bus seat

Formal proceedings at a special fast-track court got underway with lawyers arguing over whether the case should be held in a closed court

Delhi

A lawyer representing two of the men accused in the Delhi gang-rape trial has claimed that one of his clients was not present when the crime took place and that the other was hiding under a bus seat and saw nothing.

On the day proceedings in the much-anticipated gang-rape trial formally began, only to be again adjourned, lawyer AP Singh said his clients Vinay Sharma and Akshay Thakur were not guilty.

"Vinay Sharma was not on the bus," Mr Singh told reporters. "Akshay Thakur was on the bus....He was hiding under the seat because he was afraid. There was a fight."

Mr Singh's comments were made as the five men accused of the gang-rape and murder of a 23-year-old Indian student were brought before a special fast-track court in Delhi. The court was established in the aftermath of last month's attack in order to try and avoid some of the log-jams often present in the Indian judicial system.

It had been anticipated that the charges against the men might be formally framed and that the five may enter a plea. As it was, after clearing the court of the media and members of the public, the five men were brought before the judge, Yogesh Khanna, for a 20-minute hearing that was then adjourned until January 24th.

Earlier, another lawyer, AK Anand, who represents main accused Ram Singh, a bus driver, had argued that the court proceedings should be held in open court. "A court of justice is a public forum," he said. "An open court is a fundamental right of people."

Yet Mr Khanna was unimpressed. After a 45-minute adjournment during which he considered the argument of Mr Anand, he returned to say he was agreeing with the police and prosecution, who have said the case should be held in camera because it involves a rape case.

Indian journalists have already filed a petition with the Delhi high court, challenging an earlier order to keep them out of the proceedings. The matter is due to be heard on February 13.

The lawyer for another of the accused, Mukesh Singh, said to have been driving the bus at the time of the attack, has asked India's Supreme Court to consider moving the case out of Delhi, arguing that the authorities cannot guarantee a fair trial if it is held in the national capital. Lawyer ML Sharma said the higher court had agreed to consider his petition and would hear it on Tuesday.

The young student and her male companion were attacked and assaulted after boarding a private bus in December 16 after a trip to the cinema. The police say that six males assaulted and raped the woman before stripping the pair naked and throwing them from the vehicle. One of the accused is said to be aged 17 and is currently due to be dealt with by a juvenile court.

The case has triggered outcry across India and sparked a national conversation about the nation's attitude towards women. The authorities and police have belatedly sought to assure the public that steps are being taken to improve women's safety.

Few, however, feel convinced. Yesterday, the organisation Avaaz.org claimed it had received more than 1.1m signatures globally calling on the Indian authorities to do more to protect women and to take steps to educate people about women's rights.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksNow available in paperback
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Austen Lloyd: Residential Property Solicitor - Hampshire

Excellent Salary : Austen Lloyd: NORTH HAMPSHIRE - SENIOR POSITION - An exciti...

Recruitment Genius: Gas Installation Engineer

£29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Gas Installation Engineer is required ...

Recruitment Genius: Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor

£28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Domestic Gas Technical Surveyor is req...

Recruitment Genius: HVAC & Mechanical Service Estimator

£27000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Yorkshire based firm looking to...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Drifting and forgotten - turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Homeless Veterans Christmas Appeal: Turning lives around for ex-soldiers

Our partner charities help veterans on the brink – and get them back on their feet
Tove Jansson's Moominland: What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?

Escape to Moominland

What was the inspiration for Finland's most famous family?
Nightclubbing with Richard Young: The story behind his latest book of celebrity photographs

24-Hour party person

Photographer Richard Young has been snapping celebrities at play for 40 years. As his latest book is released, he reveals that it wasn’t all fun and games
Michelle Obama's school dinners: America’s children have a message for the First Lady

A taste for rebellion

US children have started an online protest against Michelle Obama’s drive for healthy school meals by posting photos of their lunches
Colouring books for adults: How the French are going crazy for Crayolas

Colouring books for adults

How the French are going crazy for Crayolas
Jack Thorne's play 'Hope': What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

What would you do as a local politician faced with an impossible choice of cuts?

Playwright Jack Thorne's latest work 'Hope' poses the question to audiences
Ed Harcourt on Romeo Beckham and life as a court composer at Burberry

Call me Ed Mozart

Paloma Faith, Lana del Ray... Romeo Beckham. Ed Harcourt has proved that he can write for them all. But it took a personal crisis to turn him from indie star to writer-for-hire
10 best stocking fillers for foodies

Festive treats: 10 best stocking fillers for foodies

From boozy milk to wasabi, give the food-lover in your life some extra-special, unusual treats to wake up to on Christmas morning
'I have an age of attraction that starts as low as four': How do you deal with a paedophile who has never committed a crime?

'I am a paedophile'

Is our approach to sex offenders helping to create more victims?
How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

How bad do you have to be to lose a Home Office contract?

Serco given Yarl’s Wood immigration contract despite ‘vast failings’
Green Party on the march in Bristol: From a lost deposit to victory

From a lost deposit to victory

Green Party on the march in Bristol
Putting the grot right into Santa's grotto

Winter blunderlands

Putting the grot into grotto
'It just came to us, why not do it naked?' London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital

'It just came to us, why not do it naked?'

London's first nude free runner captured in breathtaking images across capital
In a world of Saudi bullying, right-wing Israeli ministers and the twilight of Obama, Iran is looking like a possible policeman of the Gulf

Iran is shifting from pariah to possible future policeman of the Gulf

Robert Fisk on our crisis with Iran
The young are the new poor: A third of young people pushed into poverty

The young are the new poor

Sharp increase in the number of under-25s living in poverty