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Central & South Asia

India arrests suspects in Swiss rape case

Police say six detained suspects have confessed to gang-raping a Swiss woman and attacking her husband.
Last Modified: 17 Mar 2013 22:46

Authorities in India have arrested six men suspected of taking part in the gang-rape of a Swiss woman in Madhya Pradesh state.

The victim, 39, and her husband were touring the impoverished Datia district by bicycle and were camping overnight in the forest when a group of about six men attacked them on Friday night, sexually assaulting the woman and robbing both people.

"[The attackers] tied up the man and raped the woman in his presence."

- Local police official SM Afzal

The six suspects, who are now in custody, have reportedly confessed to the crime, according to local police official MS Dhodee.

All the accused will go before a magistrate on Monday, Dilip Arya, deputy inspector general of police, told the Reuters news agency.

The alleged rapists live in a village near the forested area where the couple had stopped to camp for the night.

"They were passing by, noticed the couple putting up their tent and saw an opportunity to attack and rape the woman," Dhodee said.

The attackers "tied up the man and raped the woman in his presence", local police official SM Afzal said, adding that they stole 10,000 rupees ($185) and a mobile phone from the woman. The valuable have been recovered, police said.

The couple were on their way to the tourist destination of Agra, home to the iconic Taj Mahal monument, in northern India when they stopped to camp for the night near a village.

Indian media reports said the men were wielding sticks when they attacked the couple.

'Tragic incident'

"We are deeply shocked by this tragic incident suffered by a Swiss citizen and her partner in India," the Swiss foreign ministry in Bern said in a statement.

The attack on Friday night comes three months after a 23-year-old physiotherapy student was gang-raped and beaten in a moving bus and thrown bleeding on to the street in a case that sparked outrage in the country.

She later died in hospital in Singapore.

After the student was raped and beaten in Delhi last December, millions of Indians took to the streets demanding the death penalty for her attackers and official action to reduce the number of assaults on women.

Four men and a juvenile are on trial for that attack. A sixth defendant, who police say was the ringleader, was found dead in his cell on Monday.

One woman is raped every 20 minutes in India, according to the National Crime Records Bureau.

But police estimate only four out of 10 rapes are reported, largely due to victims' fear of being shamed by their families and communities.

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