6 Feb 2013

First evidence in Indian rape, murder trial

11:24 pm on 6 February 2013

Five men accused of the abduction, rape and murder of a student in the Indian capital, Delhi, have been hearing the first witness evidence in their trial.

She died in a Singapore hospital on 29 December from her internal injuries.

The 23-year-old physiotherapy student's male friend, who was also attacked on the bus the pair was travelling on, was the only witness at Tuesday's hearing, the BBC reports.

The five accused deny the charges. If convicted, they could face the death penalty. A sixth suspect, who is 17, is to be tried by a juvenile court.

No reporting was allowed of Tuesday's proceedings, which have now ended.

The dead woman's 28-year-old male companion was the first of some 80 witnesses to be produced by the prosecution at Saket District Court, a specially convened fast-track court.

The woman and her companion cannot be named for legal reasons.

He arrived at the courthouse in a wheelchair, still unable to walk properly due to injuries suffered in the attack.

The assault has outraged India and sparked a debate about the treatment of women.