Three accused in Indian rape case finally get legal help
By Sanjeev Miglani
NEW DELHI (Reuters) - Three of the men accused of raping and murdering an Indian student have asked lawyers to defend them and the lawyers have agreed to do so, even though most of the judiciary has refused to represent the suspects because of outrage over the attack.
The 23-year-old physiotherapy student died two weeks after being beaten and gang-raped on a moving bus in New Delhi, then thrown bleeding onto the street. Protests followed, along with a fierce public debate over police failure to stem rampant violence against women.
Five men and a teenager have been accused of the December 16 attack but with public anger simmering, most lawyers in the district where the trial will be held have ruled out representing them.
But two lawyers, V. K. Anand and Manohar Lal Sharma, offered to defend the five men when they appeared in a New Delhi court for the first time on Monday, despite the condemnation of their legal colleagues.
The lawyers said on Tuesday three of the five had asked to be represented by them.
"I understand the sentiments of the people. But you cannot go by sentiments," Anand told Reuters. "The accused have a right to justice just as the victim has."
Legal experts had said a lack of representation for the five could give grounds for appeal if they were found guilty. Convictions in similar cases have often been overturned years later.
The five accused men are facing various charges including murder, rape and abduction and prosecutors have said they would seek the death penalty. Continued...