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Fast-track court to hear rape trial

Five men accused of the gang-rape and murder of a student in Delhi were sent for trial in a specially established fast-track court yesterday. The hearing, where they may face the death penalty if convicted, is due to begin on Monday.

City magistrate Namrita Aggarwal completed initial formalities and ordered that the case be moved to the higher court, just one floor above her room at Saket District Court.

The complex in south Delhi is just a few hundred metres from the cinema that the 23-year-old victim visited before she boarded a private bus and was allegedly attacked by the men. She died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital. The attack on the woman and her male companion on 16 December triggered outrage across India and beyond.

Confronted with large demonstrations, the government responded by establishing five fast-track courts to deal with such cases and avoid the lengthy delays that typically beset the Indian judicial system.

The case against the five accused will be the first to be heard by the new courts. A sixth male arrested over the attack is aged 17 and will be dealt with by a juvenile court.

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