India Murder-Rape Suspects Could Face Death

Alex Rossi, India Correspondent

Five men have been formally charged with the murder, kidnap and gang rape of a medical student in Delhi in India.

The 23-year-old - who has not been named - died at the weekend in a hospital in Singapore where she was being treated for major internal injuries.

If the five men are convicted of murder they could face the death penalty.

A sixth suspect is believed to be under the age of 18.

Investigators have ordered bone tests to establish his exact age, as juveniles cannot face murder charges.

The men are in custody at Delhi's Tihar prison.

According to the police the charge sheet is more than 1,000 pages long and it is expected when the trial gets under way that more than 30 witnesses will be called.

The document also contains a statement given by the victim to two different judges while she was being treated in hospital.

Investigators allege that members of the gang were drunk and joyriding in a bus when they picked up the woman and her male companion, who were on their way back from the cinema in South Delhi.

They then beat up the couple with an iron bar before gang-raping the woman.

It is claimed they then threw the pair from the moving bus and tried to run over the victim.

Delhi's Bar Association has stated none of its members will act for the men on "moral grounds", and the accused have no legal representation.

The rape has caused national outrage in India since it happened three weeks ago.

Thousands of protesters have taken to the streets on a daily basis to demand tougher penalties for rapists and fast track courts.

Rape and violence against women is all too common crime in India with the latest figures suggesting that the problem is worst in Delhi.

Last year there were 635 reported cases of rape in the capital but there was only one conviction.

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