India Gang Rape: Five Suspects Charged In Delhi

ndian authorities have charged five men with the kidnap, gang-rape and murder of a woman in Delhi last month.

ndian authorities have charged five men with the kidnap, gang-rape and murder of a woman in Delhi last month.

The 23-year-old died at the weekend from injuries from the 16 December attack. The incident sparked outrage.

The five will be tried in a fast-track court, where they could be handed the death penalty. They will not be in court to hear the charges, police said.

A sixth suspect is reported to be a juvenile. Police have ordered a bone marrow test to confirm his age.

The charges were put before a magistrate but will be transferred to a specially launched fast-track court.

The trial is expected to start at the weekend. Neither the woman nor her family can be be identified under Indian law.

Although it is mandatory in India for the accused to appear in person to be charged, policemen outside the court said they would not be present on Thursday for security reasons. Case documents already run to more than 1,000 pages and include key testimony from the woman before she died.

Police say they have scheduled about 30 witnesses.

The woman's father said he backed calls for the men to be be executed if found guilty.

"The whole country is demanding that these monsters be hanged. I am with them," he told reporters.
Daily protests

Protests have been taking place every day since the gang-rape, with protesters expressing anger over attitudes to women in India and calling for changes to the laws on violence against women.

India gang rape
They say women in Delhi and across the country are frequently subjected to harassment and sexual assault, that reports of crimes against women are not taken seriously and that conviction rates are too low.

On Wednesday, Delhi's Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit joined thousands of women on a protest march through Delhi to Rajghat and called for stringent anti-rape laws.

India's Junior Education Minister Shashi Tharoor has suggested a new anti-rape law should be named after the victim, who was a medical student.

The woman's family have said they would have no objection to such a move.

The woman and a male friend had been to see a film in the city when they boarded a bus home in the evening.

Police said she was raped for nearly an hour, and both she and her companion were beaten with iron bars, then thrown out of the moving bus into the street.

The Press Trust of India quoted police sources saying the driver of the bus, who is one of the accused, had tried to run her over after throwing her out, but that she was saved by her friend.

Helpline launched

Delhi officials have responded to criticism that they are failing to protect women by announcing a series of measures intended to make the city safer.

These include more police night patrols, checks on bus drivers and their assistants, and the banning of buses with tinted windows or curtains.

The government has also set up a committee under a retired Supreme Court judge to recommend changes to the anti-rape law.

A telephone helpline has been launched for women in distress, connected with police stations across the city.

In an indication of the growing public anger about sexual violence, a member of the ruling Congress party in north-eastern Assam state has been detained after being accused of raping a young woman in a rural village.

Footage broadcast on national television showed a crowd of women surrounding the man, stripping him and hitting him before handing him over to police.