India rape: Delhi court hears of forensic evidence

Indian protesters in Delhi, 5 January The case has caused outrage in India, with demands for greater protection

DNA tests have linked five men with a gang rape and murder last month that has caused outrage in India, a court in Delhi has heard.

The pre-trial hearing was held at the District Court in the Saket area of the Indian capital.

The judge ordered the five to appear before her on Monday. A sixth suspect is expected to be tried as a juvenile.

The woman, 23, died last weekend. Her friend has been recalling the harrowing details of the attack on a bus.

The man, who has not been named, told Zee News how he and the victim had boarded the bus and paid a fare, before he was beaten unconscious by men on board, who then attacked her.

'Robbed items'

Prosecutor Rajiv Mohan told Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal that DNA tests confirmed by the Central Forensic Science Laboratory had shown that blood stains found on the clothing of all of the accused had matched the blood of the victim.

Mr Mohan also cited records from the Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, where the woman died, which said death was caused by septicaemia and multiple-organ failure.

The victim's friend, who witnessed the attack, speaks to Zee News

The five accused, aged between 19 and 35, are charged with rape, abduction and murder, and could face the death penalty if convicted. They include the driver of the bus.

The prosecutor also said items robbed from the victim had been recovered from the accused.

The magistrate said: "[The suspects] will be produced in court on Monday."

A following hearing was set for 10 January.

Protesters gathered outside the court in Saket, carrying a banner demanding justice for the victim.

Police 'argued'

The friend of the woman who died has given his first interview since the incident.

The man, who has not been named, told Zee News he and the rape victim had boarded the bus after a trip to the cinema and after failing to flag down an auto-rickshaw.

He said the bus had tinted windows, and that he believed the group of men had laid a trap for them.

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"We tried to resist them. Even my friend fought with them, she tried to save me," he said.

"She tried to dial the police control room number 100, but the accused snatched her mobile away.

"I tried to fight against the men but later I begged them again and again to leave her."

He confirmed earlier reports that the assailants had thrown them off the bus and tried to run them over.

The friend said he had tried to get help from passers-by and motorists.

"They slowed down, looked at our naked bodies and left," he said.

And he also criticised the authorities, accusing them of being slow to arrive, then arguing over jurisdiction, and eventually taking them to the wrong hospital.

"My friend was bleeding profusely. But instead of taking us to a nearby hospital, they [police] took us to a hospital that was far away," he said.

Delhi Police on Saturday denied its officers were late in arriving. A statement said the first vehicle had arrived within four minutes of the distress call, left the scene with the victims within another three minutes and reached Safdarjung Hospital within another 24.

The BBC's Andrew North, in Delhi, says the case continues to put Indian life under a sharp magnifying glass, and for many people it is uncomfortable viewing.

Meanwhile, police have opened an investigation into whether Zee News broke broadcasting laws relating to disclosure of the victim's identity.

The victim's friend was not named but his face was shown.

Police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told AFP news agency that a case had been filed against the broadcaster.

The case has caused a national outcry, and there have been frequent protests calling for greater protection for women.

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