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Gang-rape accused to be tried for murder from Tuesday

 NEW DELHI, Feb 2 (IANS): A fast-track court here here has paved the way for the trial from Tuesday of five men accused of gang-raping a young woman in a moving bus Dec 16, 2012, by framing charges against them.Additional Sessions Judge Yogendra Khanna Saturday framed the charges of murder, gang-rape and kidnapping, among others, under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) against the accused.

The five accused are Ram Singh, a bus driver, and his brother Mukesh, Pawan Gupta, a fruit seller, Vinay Sharma, a gym instructor, and Akshay Thakur, a bus cleaner. They are currently lodged in Tihar Jail.

The other charges framed against them are unnatural offence, destruction of evidence, attempt to murder, causing hurt while committing robbery, dacoity with murder, and common intent.

The Juvenile Justice Board declared the sixth accused a minor last month, and his case will be heard by the board.

The pre-trial proceedings in the case started Jan 21 at the fast-track court which was set up for the case that led to a nation-wide outrage against crimes against women.

The accused were formally charged by police in the Saket court 18 days after they gang-raped and tortured the 23-year-old physiotherapy intern in a moving bus, causing multiple-organ failure that led to her death.

They also assaulted her 28-year-old male friend. Both were thrown out of the bus after around 40 minutes, naked, bleeding and shivering. The friend is the main witness in the case.

The chargesheet, with annexures, ran into thousands of pages and included the victim's statement, details of the accused, evidence and forensic reports.

All the accused were arrested between Dec 17-21, 2012.

The union cabinet Friday approved an ordinance for enhanced punishment in cases of crimes against women, including sexual assault, acid attacks, voyeurism and trafficking, as suggested by the Justice J.S. Verma Committee.

The government recommended to President Pranab Mukherjee that an ordinance be issued.

The Verma Committee, set up by the government Dec 23, 2012 after the gang-rape to review laws to provide speedier justice and enhanced punishment in cases of aggravated sexual assault, submitted its report Jan 23.

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