The five men charged with the horrific gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old Delhi woman will be fast-tracked through India's grinding legal gearwork, the BBC reports, owing to the fact that the case has so-far attracted a dizzying amount of international attention.
Lawyers for the defendants say that the case will begin on Monday. If convicted, the five men could face the death penalty, though the lawyer for at least one man told the BBC he would file a petition for the case to be transferred out of Delhi, fearing that the media frenzy surrounding this case might lead to an unfair trial. Another lawyer for the defendants has made some startling accusations that the men had been "tortured and coerced" last week into confessing that they were guilty. Lawyers for two of the suspects have already said that they plan to enter "not guilty" pleas, though there is little indication of how the other three accused, faced with what prosecutors say is "extensive forensic evidence," will plead. A sixth suspect, thought to be 17-years-old, will most likely be tried separately as a minor by a youth court once his age is verified.
Coverage of the case has put a magnifying glass to the way India deals (or quite often fails to deal) with rape, and critics have accused both police and government officials of mishandling or simply ignoring sexual assault cases. In the wake of the gang rape in Delhi, the government has made an effort to toughen up its rape laws, including pushing for the public shaming of convicted rapists. Critics, however, have not been appeased by this bluster, and organizations such as Human Rights Watch have said that India's procedure for rape investigations (including the infamous "two finger test") has failed to abandon its victim-blaming roots.