No room for gang-rape accused in crowded courtroom

New Delhi, Jan 7 (IANS) Five of the six men accused in the gang-rape of a 23-year-old arrived in the Saket district court premises here Monday but could not be presented before the metropolitan magistrate as a huge crowd of journalists, lawyers and onlookers packed into the courtroom.

The court said it would not hear the case unless the crowd dispersed. Metropolitan Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal said that there was no space in the courtroom to present the five accused and left for her chamber.

Around 40 security personnel are also deployed inside the courtroom for security.

Controversy has arisen over who will defend the five accused - the sixth is a juvenile - alleged to have gang-raped and tortured the young physiotherapy intern in a moving bus on Dec 16. She died of her injuries in a Singapore hospital Dec 29.

Some lawyers Monday said they were willing to represent the accused but others expressed their anguish.

One advocate told the court that he was approached by the family of the accused, asking him to defend them.

"I was approached by the family of accused, I should be allowed to meet them here to sign the 'vakalatnama' (contract with the lawyer)," said the advocate.

To this, the judge said he would not be allowed to meet the accused and could go to Tihar Jail to sign the papers.

Two lawyers, Krishan Nautiyal and Neeraj Kumar, representing media reporters, also told the court that Delhi Police had issued an advisory to the media not to report the court proceedings. "They have no power to issue such kind of advisory to media," the lawyers said.

The court said that it would not pass any order on that; an order would be passed if the prosecution filed an application. This means that the media can report the court proceedings.

The sixth accused, who is 17 years and six months old according to his school certificates, will be presented before a juvenile justice board.

Two of the six accused Sunday expressed the wish to turn into state witnesses. Vinay Sharma, a gym instructor, and Pawan Gupta, a fruit-seller, had confessed to their crime when brought before the court on Dec 19.

The two said they wanted to be witnesses in the case and refused to take the service of a legal aid counsel.

The incident has caused widespread rage and protests all over the nation, with protests being staged in several major cities, mainly in Delhi.

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