Five of the six men who gang raped and bashed to death a Delhi woman on a moving bus in the city nearly three weeks ago, face a possible death sentence for their crime.
In a Delhi court late yesterday, police filed a raft of charges against the men, including murder, rape, robbery, and kidnapping.
Indian gang rapists charged
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Indian gang rapists charged
The five men accused of savagely beating and raping a 23-year-old woman are formally charged with rape and murder in a New Delhi court.
The Indian judiciary has a declared policy of only executing people only in the "rarest of rare" cases, but prosecutors have indicated they will seek the death penalty for all five.
The sixth person accused of participating in the horrific crime, which has outraged an entire nation, claims he is a minor. Police have ordered a bone test to determine his age.
The case will be back before court Saturday.
India's justice system is famously convoluted, and notoriously slow - serious criminal charges like rape and murder regularly languish for years, even decades, before they are heard _ but, under unyielding public pressure, these men's hearings will be expedited, the first before a so-called 'fast-track' series of courts that promise to hear sex assault cases within three months.
The first day of the new streamlined system, however, was a shambolic failure.
After waiting all day for the charges to be filed, the court was closed when police finally brought the charges. The hearing was quickly moved to another courtroom, which was found to be locked, with court staff and reporters shut out. The magistrate also initially indicated the case would return on a Sunday, when the court is closed.
The fast-track court in Saket, in south Delhi close to where the woman was snatched by her attackers, was only inaugurated Wednesday. These are its first cases.
Amid nationwide fury at the brazenness and brutality of the attack, there have been widespread calls for summary executions of the accused, but India's Chief Justice Altamas Kabir urged the accused must be afforded due process.
"People's reaction has been: 'do not send them to trial, hand them over to us, we will deal with them or hang them'. But let us not get carried away. A swift trial should not be at the cost of a fair trial."
The woman, a 23-year-old physiotherapy student, boarded a bus at Munirka with her boyfriend - whom she was to marry next month - after watching a movie on the night of Sunday, December 16.
Once on board, the six men already on the bus, friends who had been drinking, locked the doors and bashed her partner unconscious with an iron rod.
They then turned on the girl, beating her and taking turns raping her for more than 40 minutes.
The pair was thrown, naked and unconscious, from the moving bus. The girl died in a Singapore hospital 13 days later from horrific internal injuries.
She was cremated in Delhi Sunday.
He father, speaking to BBC's Hindi channel from his family's ancestral village in Uttar Pradesh, said a determined streak had propelled her daughter from a poor rural village into higher education.
"She was brave, had no fear and full of life. She studied day and night. We would not even know when she slept and woke up. My daughter was very adamant on whatever she wanted."
The woman's family sold some of their land so they could fund their daughter's education.
"She always wanted to be a doctor and was sure about it. That's why we moved from this rural place to Delhi - to give our children a better future."
The woman's father said he supported the death penalty for all of the men who attacked his daughter, including the juvenile.
"All the six accused should never be allowed to step out of the jail... they must be hanged. They are a threat to every woman on the street."
Protests over the gang-rape of the woman, and over women's rights and safety more broadly, are continuing in Delhi's city centre.