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File photo shows the Swiss victim being escorted from the hospital by police. The indentity of the victim was concealed by authorities.—Photo by AP
File photo shows the Swiss victim being escorted from the hospital by police. The indentity of the victim was concealed by authorities.—Photo by AP

NEW DELHI: Six men accused in the gang-rape and robbery of a 39-year-old Swiss woman cyclist holidaying in India were sentenced to life terms Saturday by a fast-track Indian court.

“All the accused have been convicted and we are satisfied with the judgement,” said the public prosecutor in the case, Rajendra Tiwari, after the court ruling in central India, the semi-official Press Trust of India and other local media reported.

The rape of the Swiss woman came three months after the fatal gang-rape of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus in Delhi in December, which brought simmering anger about the treatment of women in India to the surface.

India's legal system has faced intense scrutiny over its efforts to curb violence against women in the world's largest democracy following the Delhi gang rape in which the victim died of horrific internal injuries.

The six sentenced to life on Saturday were detained soon after the attack on the Swiss woman in mid-March in a remote, forested area of Datia district in central Madhya Pradesh state where the victim was camping with her husband.

Her 30-year-old husband was tied up as the woman was assaulted and the pair were also robbed, according to police.

The Swiss couple was reported to be on an adventure tourism trip in India and was cycling through the northern part of the country.

Only four of the six men were charged with gang-rape because testimony from the victim said two of them were “only present at the crime scene”, according to M.L. Dhody, a Datia police officer.

The other two accused were charged with assault and robbery but still received life-sentences at the court in Datia district.

Five of the men were farmers in their twenties while the sixth was 19 at the time of the attack, police said.

Weeks of massive demonstrations over the Delhi rape prompted India's parliament to toughen sex offence laws including doubling the minimum prison sentence for gang-rape to 20 years.

Part of the legal shake-up involved the establishment of fast-track courts to try accused rapists in India's clogged legal system where cases can often drag on for years.

The fast-track trial of four adult suspects in the Delhi rape – another died while in jail from a suspected suicide in March – is underway in the Indian capital.

A fifth accused is being tried as a juvenile.

One woman is raped every 20 minutes, the National Crime Records Bureau says. But the crime is vastly under-reported because of the social stigma associated with such attacks.

The publicity generated by the Delhi rape and the issue of violence against women in India led to a 35 percent fall in female visitors to India in the first three months of the year, the Associated Chambers of Commerce and Industry of India said recently.

Indian women are by far the main targets of rape. Earlier this month police arrested eight suspects over the gang-rape of four schoolgirls abducted from their convent boarding house in the country's east.

But there have been also been a string of cases involving foreign women over the past months.

Indian police said in June they were investigating the gang-rape of a US tourist by a group of truckers while an Irish charity worker was reported to have been raped in the eastern city of Kolkata that same month.

Indian officials say there is no need for alarm, pointing out that foreigners are victims of crime the world over and the vast majority of visitors experience no safety problems.

But travel advice from a host of countries stresses the need for visitors to take care in India.

Comments (10) Closed

Shri Jul 20, 2013 11:43pm

Hang them.

Dipesh Lall Jul 20, 2013 11:52pm

These six men should have been hanged. Rape is evil as it is but to rape a guest in your home demands exemplary punishment. Disgraceful cowards. Lock them up and throw away the keys. Let them rot.

Malik Jul 21, 2013 01:39am

Great News! The Indian legal system is working. The Pakistanis should learn this from India. Fast Track System, we have all the commonalities with India, what is wrong in asking them to help us. We know the jails in Pakistan are crowded where the criminals are never punished. The jails securities are alarming where the prisoners can do anything, examples are the latest incident in Central Jail, in Karachi and of course in Bannun and DG Khan where the prisoners were freed.

Farooq Mughal Jul 21, 2013 01:41am

Hope Pakistan learn something from this. What happened to the rapist involved in Mukhrana Mai's case, all got freed. Also hardy any rapist gets punishment in Pakistan. Interestingly, religious parties, always remain busy in anti-american protests but never take any action to help the rape victim.

Rez Jul 21, 2013 01:44am

Thanks to the glitz and glamor of Bollywood that things have come to this now,it shows an India which in reality does not exist but only in the minds of the Director and producers and when these youth come out in the real world India they get frustrated and hence take it out on the helpless females.

rana1 Jul 21, 2013 02:20am

india a country where a female is neither safe in the womb nor outside

Sultan Alvi Jul 21, 2013 06:47am

Excellent performance by Indian police and judiciary. Pakistan should take a lesson from India in this. Good job India, we all salute you for quick and appropriate action. Bravo!

m. a Jul 21, 2013 09:58pm

India has done a good justice. I wish similar justice could be given to rapest in the Pakistan. The problem is that these criminals have politisons on their support. All the problems in the Pakistan are caused by the unlawful rich and political persons. The lawyers and judges decide upon the money they could get from the criminals.

Himanshu Jul 22, 2013 12:11am

@Rez: In arab, a lady from norway was raped, she reported it and after that she got jailed for 16 months.

Ram Narayanan Jul 22, 2013 02:22am

@rana1: Yeah, in Pakistan, women and girls are very safe, no?