Indian Rape Suspects Might Be Turning Against Each Other

Dashiell Bennett
The Atlantic Wire
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Unidentified relatives of Ram Singh, one of the men on trial for his alleged involvement in the gang rape and fatal beating of a woman aboard a New Delhi bus, carry Singh's body in to a waiting hearse outside a mortuary in New Delhi, India, Tuesday, March 12, 2013. The body of a man who died in a New Delhi jail while in the midst of a high-profile rape trial was released to his family Tuesday after a post-mortem exam aimed at determining whether he committed suicide or was killed.(AP Photo/ Mustafa Quraishi)

Five of the men accused in the Delhi's now notorious rape and murder case appeared in court for the first time today as it was revealed that two of them may be looking to testify against the others. All five men arrived via heavy security to a packed court house in South Delhi on Monday to hear the charges filed against them, which include murder, rape, kidnapping, assault and other crimes. (The sixth suspect is under 18 and will be tried in a different juvenile court.) According the BBC, the courthouse is directly across the street from a movie theater where the suspects picked up the 23-year-old victim and her friend, before raping her and leaving her for dead.

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Over the weekend, two of the accused filed an application to be "approvers," which means they could become informers against the other suspects, possibly in an attempt to get a lesser sentence. Given the heated atmosphere around the case, however, the tactic may not do them much good. Prosecutors have repeatedly insisted that they will seek the death penalty and public opinion may not allow them to get away leniency, even in the event of a guilty plea. Also, police say they already have recorded confessions and extensive DNA evidence, which means they may not even need much cooperation from the suspects to get decisive verdicts.

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The case has generated so much anger that members of the local bar association have refused to offer representation to the defendants, a protest that, perversely, may actually help them avoid their death sentences. The fact that they've received no representation so far—even during several rounds of police interrogations—could be grounds for successful appeals down the road. 

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The magistrate overseeing the case also ruled that the media will be barred from all the proceedings, even the eventual trial.