Gang-rape trial moved to fast-track Indian court

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The trial of five men accused over the gang rape and murder of a young woman in India is to be moved to a fast-track court.

Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal in New Delhi yesterday sent the case to the new court established to deal with crimes against women and set a hearing for 21 January. A sixth suspect in the attack claims to be a juvenile.

The rape of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student last month set off protests in New Delhi and sparked a national debate about the treatment of women across India.

In an effort to address claims of official inaction, the government set up five fast-track courts in the capital to deal swiftly with crimes against women.

Authorities were eager to move the case into one of those courts, which are designed to avoid the delays, incompetence and corruption that plague much of India’s legal system.

Lawyers for the five have said police mistreated their clients, including beating them to force them to confess to the 16 December rape.

VK Anand, a lawyer for one of the defendants, said he would petition the Supreme Court to have the rape trial moved out of New Delhi because he does not believe his client could get a fair hearing in the capital.

Police said the victim and a male friend were heading home from the cinema when they boarded a bus, where they were attacked by the six assailants. The attackers beat the man and took turns raping the woman, assaulting her with a metal bar which caused serious internal injury, police said. During the attack, the bus drove through a series of police checkpoints without being stopped.

The victims were eventually dumped on the roadside, and the woman died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.