In India, the case against five men accused of gang-raping a woman who died of her injuries has been sent to a special fast-track court.
A magistrate in New Delhi announced Thursday that the first hearing in the case will be January 21. A sixth suspect is under 18 and will be tried separately in a juvenile court.
The suspects are accused of attacking a 23-year-old woman and her male friend after luring them onto a bus in New Delhi on December 16. They were both beaten with a rod. The woman was gang-raped and both victims were thrown from the bus.
The woman died of her injuries on December 29 in a Singapore hospital, where she had been taken for treatment.
Indian authorities have charged the men with murder, rape, kidnapping and other charges. Officials say they will push for the death penalty if the men are convicted.
The lawyer for three of the suspects, Manohar Lal Sharma, says his clients will plead not guilty. He alleges that police used force to gain confessions from them. On Thursday he said he feared the police would fake a confrontation with his clients in order to kill them.
"I found, seriously, within my own investigation, within my own facts it was revealed to me that now police are going to encounter these innocent boys," Sharma said. "These boys will not be allowed to see trial in the coming days. Any day, between Tihar Jail to the court, the police will free them and they will shoot them and they will say that these boys were running and that's why we shot them."
The brutal attack has sparked outrage across the country. Protesters have called for tougher rape laws, major police reforms and a transformation in the ways India treats women.
Issues such as rape, dowry-related deaths and female infanticide rarely enter mainstream political discourse in India.