The five men accused of the brutal gang-rape and murder of an Indian student had their first court appearance today, Reuters reports, and they could end up facing different sentences. Two of the alleged rapists requested to be made informers against the others over the weekend, presumably in an effort to avoid the death penalty, the AP reports. Vinay Sharma and Pawan Gupta, who made the request, have already been charged with rape, murder, abduction, and other crimes along with Mukesh Kumar, Ram Singh, and Akshay Thakur. The trial and all pre-trial hearings will be closed to the media, a judge ruled today, as hundreds of journalists and other people waited outside the courthouse for news.
The men were believed to have still not found defense lawyers willing to represent them; a Supreme Court lawyer today offered representation and was booed by others in the courtroom. Today's proceeding will hear the charges against the men and likely end with the case being sent to a "fast-track" court (cases can take decades to wind their way through India's normal courts), with the trial commencing in the coming days. The sixth suspect is 17 and will thus be tried in juvenile court, where he faces a maximum sentence of three years. Over the weekend, the victim's father revealed her name, and the prosecutor announced that her blood was found on the suspects' clothes. (Read more gang rape stories.)