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India

Indian police set to charge accused rapists

Police in New Delhi have announced their plans to file charges against a group of men who allegedly gang-raped and fatally injured a 23-year-old woman two weeks ago. The case has sparked outrage across India.

Final preparations were being made to allow formal charges to be brought against the accused men, Indian officials said on Wednesday.

The six suspects were arrested in the days following the gang-rape of a young woman on a bus in the capital city. The men are to be brought before a court for a fast-tracked trial.

"We are on schedule to file formal charges in court Thursday," police spokesperson Rajan Bhagat told reporters.

The charges are to include rape, assault and murder. If convicted, the accused could face the death penalty.

Whether the court would charge all six assailants, including the bus driver, remained to be seen, as one of the men was reportedly a minor.

Calls to name law after victim

India's Junior Education Minister Shashi Tharoor has called to name a recently proposed anti-rape law to be named after the victim, who has remained unidentified. Her family said they approved of the idea, according to the Times of India on Wednesday.

The brutal case has set off a wave of protests in the days since the attack. Citizens have staged protests and held candlelit vigils across cities in India, calling for greater protection of women in a country where rape is all too prevalent.

According to police figures, a rape is reported to authorities every 18 hours in New Delhi.

The victim, who was reported to be a medical student, boarded a bus on December 16 with a male friend after visiting the cinema. The six men aboard the bus, including the driver, allegedly conspired to attack the woman. She was gang-raped, beaten and ultimately thrown from the vehicle. New evidence suggests that the driver then tried to run over her and her companion.

The unidentified woman died over the weekend at Mount Elizabeth Hospital in Singapore, where she had been treated for severe head trauma and organ damage. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and the chairwoman of the ruling Congress Party, Sonia Gandhi, were present at the airport the following day to meet her remains.

kms/rc (dpa, AP, AFP, Reuters)