NEW DELHI: The five persons accused of gang-raping and killing of a 23-year-old Delhi girl in a moving bus have got lawyers to defend them.
All the accused also assaulted her 28-year-old male friend. Both were thrown out of the bus after around 40 minutes, battered, naked, bleeding and shivering. The lady's friend will be the main witness in the case.
Meanwhile, a lawyer who volunteered to defend one of the six accused, Mukesh, brother of the main accused Ram Singh, said the victim and her friend were responsible for the assault.
Manohar Lal Sharma, a 56-year-old Supreme Court advocate, said the victim's friend was responsible for the attack as the couple should not have ventured out on the streets at night.
He further went on to say that he never heard of a respectable woman being raped in the country.
Speaking to The Independent, Manohar said: 'I have not seen a single incident or example of rape with a respected lady. Even an underworld don would not like to touch a girl with respect.'
Blaming the victim's friend, Manohar told The New York Times: 'This all happened because of the lust of the boy. This is the boy who should be hanged. He's responsible for everything. He should be punished.'
In an interview with Bloomberg, Manohar was quoted saying that he was 'confident that the men will be proved innocent because there are a number of problems with the police investigation.'
"We will plead not guilty. We want this to go to trial," Manohar told Reuters.
"We are only hearing what the police are saying. This is manipulated evidence. It's all on the basis of hearsay and presumption."
Manohar said the police had rushed through the investigation against the five men even when they were not ready with the key detail of the age of the sixth member of the group, who lured the woman and a male friend into the bus and, according to leaked accounts, was the most brutal in the attack.
"When you have not even established the age of this person, how can you go to court bringing the charges against the others, and say your investigations are complete," Sharma said.
"We all know how police investigations are carried out in India."
Manohar also accused that Mukesh was being brutality tortured in police custody.
Sharma said police had sexually assaulted his client with a stick and humiliated him. "They urinated in his mouth, they did all kinds of things to him. He is facing the same torture now from the jail inmates," he said.
Lawyer VK Anand is representing the main accused Ram Singh, ML Sharma is defending Mukesh, AP Singh is representing Akshay alias Thakur and Vinay Sharma, while the fifth accused Pawan Gupta will be represented by counsel Vivek Sharma.
The sixth accused is a juvenile and his case is being heard by a Juvenile Justice Board.
The police have charged the five under sections 302 (murder), 307 (attempt to murder), 376 (2)(g) (gang-rape), 377 (unnatural offences), 395 (dacoity), 396 (murder in dacoity), 365 (kidnapping or abduction with intent to secretly or wrongfully confine a person), 394 (hurting in dacoity), 201 (destruction of evidence), 120B (conspiracy), 34 (common intention), 412 (dishonestly receiving stolen property), and 397 (robbery or dacoity with attempt to cause death or grievous hurt) of the Indian Penal Code.