x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Six arrested over Swiss tourist rape appear in court

Only four will be charged with gang rape, which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years, because testimony from the victim said two of them were 'only present at the crime scene'.

NEW DELHI // Six men arrested in connection with the rape of a Swiss tourist who was cycling with her husband in Central India were produced in court yesterday.

Only four of them will be charged with gang rape, which carries a minimum sentence of 10 years, because testimony from the victim said two of them were "only present at the crime scene", said ML Dhody, a police officer in Datia, a town in Madhya Pradesh where the attack took place.

All the men face robbery charges as police say the group stole a laptop, a mobile phone and 10,000 rupees (Dh680) from the victim and her 30-year-old husband, who was tied up before the sexual assault.

"The six of them have confessed to their roles in the crime," Mr Dhody said.

Five of the suspects, all farmers in their twenties, were paraded in front of television cameras in Madhya Pradesh late on Sunday. They were dressed in jeans and shirts but with black cloth covering their faces.

The sixth man, 19, was detained in a neighbouring state overnight and brought back to Datia.

The attack, which occurred Friday night as the couple camped in a forest, came three months after the fatal gang rape of a woman on a New Delhi bus which spurred outrage over the treatment of women in Indian society and the country's justice system.

The Swiss couple told police that the woman had been raped by seven or eight men, but that it was dark and they could not be sure of the exact number.

The men beat up the husband, tied him to a tree before raping the woman, police said.

The Swiss tourists were on a three-month India holiday and had visited the temple town of Orchha. They were planning to cycle to Agra to visit the Taj Mahal, about 210 kilometres away.

They set out from Orchha on Friday appear in courtand pitched their tent in the forest near Jatia village when they were attacked by men armed with sticks, police said.

Last month, the Swiss government issued a travel notice for India that included a warning about "increasing numbers of rapes and other sexual offences" in the South Asian nation, and the latest incident could prompt other countries to issue similar warnings.

On Monday, the Press Trust of India news agency reported that the 39-year-old woman said she will stay in India for now to help the investigation.

* With additional reporting by Associated Press