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.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
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

Recruitment Genius: Automotive Service Advisor - Franchised Main Dealer

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This successful, family owned m...

Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW London

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Account Payable Assistant - SW Londo...

Recruitment Genius: Bathroom Showroom Customer Service / Sales Assistant

£14560 - £17680 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Even though their premises have...

Recruitment Genius: Finance Manager

£44000 - £48000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Marketing company based in cent...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence