The gang rape of Jyoti Singh Pandey has sparked mass protests across India

India Gang Rape Suspects Are Innocent Fall Guys, Says Lawyer

The lawyer for three of the six men accused of the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old New Delhi student says his clients are innocent and that police authorities have tampered with crucial evidence in the case.

“They are innocent,” Manohar Lal Sharma said of his three clients before a second preliminary court hearing in Delhi on Thursday morning.

Sharma also said his clients have been beaten and threatened by other inmates deliberately placed by police in their cells in Delhi’s Tihar prison, adding, “you can’t believe the reality of Indian prisons.”

Five of the six men were formally charged with rape and murder this week. The sixth suspect, a 17-year-old will be tried as a juvenile, BBC News reports.

On December 16, Jyoti Singh Pandey — who was recently publicly identified by her father in the press — boarded a bus in New Delhi after watching the Life of Pi at a cinema in the capital with a male friend, Awindra Pandey.

During that bus journey, the pair were beaten with iron rods by six men while Jyoti was repeatedly raped then assaulted with one of the rods. After the attack the pair were stripped and thrown off the bus while it was still moving.

Awindra Pandey, a 28-year-old software engineer, has since spoken of the attack in a harrowing television interview on Zee News, an Indian television network.

The extreme nature of the case and subsequent death of the victim on December 29 from multiple injuries has sparked massive protests in India, and international focus on the country’s endemic problem of sexual violence against women.

Across India women's groups have protested against the India's endemic problem of sex crimes against girls and young women