The suspects will go before a so-called "fast-track" court
They were charged with murder, rape and kidnapping
The incident occurred last month in New Delhi
More women officers have been deployed to handle complaints in New Delhi
The men accused in the gang rape and killing of an Indian woman have been summoned to appear in court Monday to hear charges against them, authorities said Saturday.
The horrific attack on the 23-year-old woman in New Delhi on December 16 has prompted angry protests over the country’s treatment of women and handling of sexual attacks. It also stirred worldwide outrage.
The suspects arrived Monday at the Metropolitan Magistrates’ Court in the southern New Delhi district of Saket amid a tense atmosphere, tight security and a heavy news media presence. The men were there to hear the charges against them.
Fast-track courts expedite cases in a court system bogged down by red tape.
Charges of murder, rape and kidnapping were filed against five of the accused men on Thursday. If convicted, they could receive the death penalty.
A juvenile court will take up the matter of determining the age of a sixth suspect in the attack, who claims to be 17 and therefore not old enough to be tried as an adult, CNN affiliate IBN reported.
The men are accused of assaulting her and her male companion on a bus in the Indian capital on December 16, robbing them of their belongings before dumping them at the side of a road.
The case appears to have prompted changes in New Delhi law enforcement.
India’s interior minister has ordered the city’s police stations to increase the number of women officers to facilitate the handling of complaints from women.
Interior Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said last week that each police station in Delhi should have 10 women constables and two women subinspectors.
“We will be posting these women very soon, according to this order, by diverting staff from other places and making them available in Delhi,” police spokesman Rajan Bhagat said. At present, women comprise 7% of police forces, he said.
Candidates will be recruited within four months, and training will take an additional nine months, he said.
“You need these protests to bring about a change in laws. And laws should be made so tough that nobody should even think of committing such crimes. Rapists deserve death sentence,” he said.
“We need overall more women in the police station as other women feel more comfortable with female officers,” he said. “If all women complaints are attended to promptly, situations like that of the gang-raped medical student may have been avoided.”
The interior minister said he is working with security officials to strengthen laws regarding rape and assault.
In the state of Haryana, about 80 miles northwest of Delhi, officials plan to publicize the profiles of rapists. The state will publish the names, addresses and case numbers of convicted rapists on a website.
“In doing so, we hope to curb crime against women,” said Laik Ram Dabbas, director of the state crime records bureau.
The website could be active this month, Dabbas said.