Delhi gang-rape trial opens

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The trial of five men charged with the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old student on a New Delhi bus began in a closed courtroom yesterday with opening arguments by the prosecution lawyers in a special fast-track court set up just weeks ago to handle sexual assault cases.

The attack last month set off protests across India and opened a national debate about violence against women. A government committee established since has called for a complete overhaul of the way the criminal justice system deals with rape, sexual assaults and crimes against women.

The five men on trial – who could face death by hanging if convicted – covered their faces with woollen caps as they walked into the court surrounded by armed police for a two-hour hearing. A sixth suspect has claimed he is a juvenile and is expected to be tried separately.