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NEW DELHI— The five men accused of raping and murdering a 23-year-old physiotherapy student in a case that has transfixed India appeared before the trial judge Monday for a brief and largely procedural hearing.
Additional Sessions Judge Yogesh Khanna scheduled the next hearing for noon on Thursday, when defense attorneys and prosecutors are expected to begin arguments over precisely which criminal charges the accused will face at trial.
Nearly a dozen reporters were present in the courtroom, the first hearing before Judge Khanna in the fast-track court specifically set up for this trial. But Judge Khanna ordered the reporters to leave the courtroom before the proceeding took place under a renewed order that will make the trial closed to anyone not directly connected to the trial, including reporters.
The reporters filed out of the courtroom in an orderly fashion, in contrast to the chaos that surrounded earlier proceedings, when reporters found out belatedly that the charges were being read in another room and then banged on the door of a magistrate’s court, demanding to be let in.
All five men plan to plead not guilty in the case, their lawyers said.
Separately, India’s Supreme Court heard a petition Tuesday from one of the accused asking that the trial be moved from New Delhi. Mukesh Singh told the court that a fair trial was not possible in New Delhi, because both the police and the judiciary were under intense public pressure on the case, Reuters reported.