Delhi gangrape: 3 accused to plead not guilty, says lawyer

Gangrape accused

Three of the five accused in the gangrape and murder of the 23-year-old girl in a bus will plead not guilty to the charges and claim trial, advocates seeking to represent them said on Tuesday.

Advocate M L Sharma, who appeared in the Metropolitan Magistrate's court yesterday and offered to defend the accused amidst protests from the Saket bar, has been engaged by prime accused Ram Singh, his brother Mukesh Singh and Akshay Kumar Singh alias Thakur.

Another advocate V K Anand, who had also showed up in the court wanting to be an amicus curiae, has also been engaged by the Ram Singh.

"They will plead not guilty to the charges levelled against them in the chargesheet. They want to face the trial," said Sharma and Anand echoed a similar stand.

Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal had yesterday posted the matter for January 10 after ordering that proceedings will be held in camera and media should not report them.

A senior Tihar jail official said the accused were illiterate undertrial prisoners. "Generally in a sensational case, many advocates come forward to represent the accused. Being illiterate and already scared, the accused might have signed even more than two advocates. It is an issue between the advocate and the prisoner," he said.

Sharma claimed that he was approached by the family of the prime accused Ram Singh, Mukesh and Akshay, who have signed him to defend them. Anand maintained he would be defending Ram Singh.

He said he had yesterday also met the accused in the Tihar jail but could not get the vakalatnama signed.

Sharma said, this morning, the accused themselves asked him to represent them in the court.

He refused to take the case for the other two accused-- Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma--saying, "Gupta's father had visited him in Tihar. Since one of their relatives is also a practicing advocate, he would be representing him."

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