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Indian lawyers refuse to defend gang-rape suspects

Demonstrators hold placards demanding better safety for women in New Delhi on December 24, 2012.

Demonstrators hold placards demanding better safety for women in New Delhi on December 24, 2012.

Lawyers in India’s Saket District have announced that they will not defend the suspects accused of involvement in the recent brutal rape and subsequent murder of a 23-year-old Indian woman.

The 23-year-old student died of brain injury and massive internal injuries at a hospital in Singapore on December 29, 2012 after she was sexually assaulted by six men on a bus and beaten with an iron bar on December 16 in the Indian capital.

Her body arrived back in India on December 30 and was cremated during a private ceremony.

The lawyers made the announcement on Wednesday, a day before the start of hearings on the case at the Saket District court in south New Delhi.

“We have decided that no lawyer will stand up to defend the rape accused as it would be immoral to defend the case,” said Sanjay Kumar, a lawyer and a member of the Saket District Bar Council.

Kumar added that the 2,500 advocates registered at the court will “stay away.” The move forces the Indian government to appoint lawyers for the defendants.

Five men, who had been arrested in connection with the attack, were charged with murder following the victim’s death.

The sixth suspect is said to be a 17-year-old teenager who has to be tried in a juveniles’ court. However, bone tests are currently being conducted in a bid to find out his age.

The horrific nature of the crime shocked Indians, who thronged the streets, demanding protection for women and capital punishment for rape, which currently carries a maximum penalty of life imprisonment.

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