Two of five men accused in the high-profile gang rape of a young woman in Delhi will plead not guilty to all charges, according to a report in the Times of India newspaper.
Attorney Manohar Lal Sharma, who represents defendants Mukesh Singh and Akshay Thakur, told the paper: "Nothing has been proven yet."
Sharma also told Indian media that he will challenge the police’s handling of evidence of bloodstains that prosecutors reportedly have linking the men to the gang-rape that has sparked massive protests across India for almost a month.
Singh and Thakur are currently being held in the maximum-security Tihar prison outside Delhi. Their next hearing is scheduled in private for Thursday.
The Times reported that it remains unclear what attorney, if any, is representing the other three defendants in the case.
However, BBC reported that Sharma is also representing Ram Singh, Mukesh’s brother, who was apparently the driver of the bus where the gang rape took place.
"I believe the accused should get a fair trial, and I have come forward to represent them," Sharma told BBC.
The other two suspects were identified as Pawan Gupta and Vinay Sharma.
These five defendants range in age from 19 to 35 and all hail from Delhi slums.
A sixth defendant, who is only 17 years old, will face trial in a separate court for juveniles. Agence France Presse, citing an official at Delhi's Juvenile Justice Board, reported that the minor will face a hearing on Jan. 15.
"The age of the accused is not in proper order, so the court asked the principal of (the) teenage accused's school to come along with age-related documents of the minor," he said.
The rape victim, identified by British media as 23-year-old Jyoti Singh Pandey, a medical student, died in a Singapore hospital almost two weeks after the brutal attack on the Delhi bus.
Women's rights activists are demanding the death penalty for the defendants, who are also facing murder charges.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.