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India gang-rape, murder case moved to fast track

By Harmeet Singh, CNN
updated 1:32 AM EST, Fri January 18, 2013
Indian protestors light candles around a mannequin representing the rape victim during a rally in New Delhi on December 31.
Indian protestors light candles around a mannequin representing the rape victim during a rally in New Delhi on December 31.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • The case against five men is to begin Monday, lawyers for the defendants say
  • A sixth alleged attacker may be tried in a youth court once his age is confirmed
  • The 23-year-old victim died after being flown to Singapore for treatment

Delhi, India (CNN) -- The case against five men charged with the gang rape and murder of a 23-year-old woman in Delhi has been moved to a fast-track court for trial, lawyers for the defendants said Friday.

The case is scheduled to begin Monday, they said.

A sixth suspect will be tried in a youth court if it is confirmed he is a minor.

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In the December 16 incident, passengers and the driver of a bus allegedly attacked the woman and her male companion, robbed them and dumped them by the side of the road.

The badly beaten woman was flown to Singapore for treatment after the attack.

She died about two weeks later while undergoing treatment.

The five men are charged with murder, rape and kidnapping and face the death penalty if convicted. A juvenile court is determining the age of a sixth suspect, who has said he is 17, too young to be tried as an adult.

The government has pledged to strengthen laws against sexual assaults.

The number of reported rapes in India -- a country where a cultural stigma keeps many victims from reporting the crime -- has increased from 2,487 in 1971 to 24,206 in 2011, according to official figures.

Most women in India have stories of sexual harassment and abuse on public transportation or on the streets, said Seema Sirohi, of the Indian Council on Global Relations.

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