4 Jan 2013

Five charged with Delhi woman's murder

9:06 am on 4 January 2013

Authorities in India have charged five men with the kidnap, gang-rape and murder of a woman in Delhi.

The 23-year-old was lured onto a bus with a male friend on 16 December last year before being attacked and thrown off the vehicle. She died two weeks later at a hospital in Singapore.

The men will be tried in a fast-track court, where they could be handed the death penalty. A sixth suspect will be tried in a juvenile court, the BBC reports.

The incident sparked outrage across India. The victim's father said he backed calls for the men to be hanged if found guilty.

"The whole country is demanding that these monsters be hanged. I am with them," he told reporters at his home in Uttar Pradesh state.

Neither the woman nor her family can be identified under Indian law.

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.

Although it is mandatory in India for the accused to appear in person to be charged, police outside the court said they would not be present on Thursday for security reasons.

Case documents already run to more than 1000 pages and include key testimony from the woman before she died. Police say they have scheduled about 30 witnesses.

The Bar Association said none of its members was willing to defend the suspects, so the court is expected to appoint defence lawyers itself.

Meanwhile, thousands in India are calling for greater justice for women.

The country's first female Additional Solicitor-General, Indira Jaising, has been put in charge of tightening up sexual assault laws.

Ms Jaising says the conviction rate in rape cases is about one on four and many cases do not ever make it as far as the courtroom.