India: Five men charged with rape, murder of student on bus in Delhi


Musicians play John Lennon's 'Imagine' in a memorial tribute to the 23-year old Indian gang rape victim, during a mass guitar ensemble played by some 600 guitarists in Darjeeling on January 3, 2013.



Rape and murder charges have been filed against five men accused in the assault of a university student for hours on a bus as it drove through India's capital, Delhi.

If convicted in the rape and murder of the 23-year-old woman, who died of severe internal injuries in a Singapore hospital over the weekend, the men could be executed, according to the Associated Press

The alleged brutal gang rape — which reportedly lasted for hours aboard a moving bus — sparked nationwide outrage and provoked fierce debate across India about the mistreatment of women and girls, according to the Washington Post

There have been almost daily protests across India.

The New York Times cited an official as saying that the case against the five men will almost certainly be referred immediately to a new fast-track court set up to handle cases involving crimes against women.

And "in stark contrast to the apathy and years of delay that Indian rape victims often face when seeking justice," the court is expected to hold a trial quickly.

According to the Washington Post, six suspects — including the bus driver and his brother — were arrested, however one of them, who also allegedly raped the student, has claimed he is a juvenile.

If medical testing confirms his age, he will face charges in a separate juvenile justice court.  

Other charges against the men include destruction of evidence and the attempted murder of the woman’s companion. 

The case has prompted tough talk by lawmakers, several of whom are calling for tougher laws, including the death penalty and chemical castration for rapists.

They are also examining reforms in the criminal justice system's handling of sexual assaults.

Activists say the tragedy could mark a turning point for women's rights. 

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