NEW DELHI, India — The trial of five men charged in the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a Delhi bus began in a closed courtroom Thursday.
Proceedings began in a special fast-track court set up just weeks ago in order to deal with sexual assault cases, reported the South China Morning Post.
Prosecutors began with opening arguments Thursday, but details were unavailable because the courtroom was closed to the public, which is routine in rape cases in India.
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If convicted, the five men face a maximum sentence of death by hanging, the Daily Mail reported. At least two of the accused are expected to plead not guilty to all charges, and a sixth suspect has claimed he is a juvenile and is expected to be tried in a juvenile court.
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The five accused were brought into the special court by policemen, while covering their own faces with gray woolen caps. They have been charged with gang rape, murder, robbery and destruction of evidence.
The perp walk attracted dozens of reporters, but after more than a month of news stories on many brutal rapes, many city residents' anger is giving way to a numb paralysis.
"It doesn't mean anything to me," said Natasha Zarine, a New Delhi graduate student. "Maybe these guys will be given the strictest punishment. But the damage has been done. There can be no justice now."
The next hearing in the case is set for Monday, said CTV News, when the defense will present its opening arguments. Prosecutors said their case is based on the dying testimony of the victim, as well as her male companion who was also beaten in the Dec. 16 attack. Cell phone records will be used during the trial as well.
Jason Overdorf contirbuted reporting from New Delhi.