Fast trial after rape of swiss tourist

Fast trial after rape of Swiss tourist

The hearings started on Saturday at the local court in Datia with testimonies of the first witnesses and continued on Monday, according to the investigator in charge of the case. Now regular meetings are to be held. The public prosecutor’s office accuses the men, aged between 20 and 25, of raping the 39-year-old Swiss woman in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. If convicted, they face 20 years to life in prison.

The Swiss couple, who had left India the previous week, had been attacked and robbed by a group of men while camping in the forest. The perpetrators tied up the man and raped the woman in front of him.

"The defendants have pleaded not guilty in a preliminary hearing," said district police chief. However, the lead investigators stressed that they had enough evidence against the defendants. Thus, they would have seized DNA traces and found the laptop and cell phones of the two tourists with the defendants.

A few days ago, the Swiss woman and her partner announced through the ambassador in India that they were ready to participate in the court case via video conference. It was not yet clear on Monday whether the court would order this to be done. The Swiss also said that while they wanted an appropriate punishment for the perpetrators, they rejected the death penalty.

Rapists face seven years to life in prison in India under new law. Gang rapes punishable by 20 years to life in prison. The death penalty can be imposed if the perpetrator is convicted of rape for the second time, the victim dies as a result of the crime or is permanently in a coma.

Since a 23-year-old Indian woman was raped by several men on a bus in New Delhi in December and later died of her injuries, there has been a lively debate in India about violence against women. Since then, laws have been tightened and police awareness raised.

The brutal act also caused a stir worldwide – and now has consequences for the tourism industry. According to an industry survey, a quarter fewer tourists have come to India since then. "The sharp decline is due to safety concerns," Manju Negi of the United Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Assocham) said Monday. A survey of 1,200 tour operators had revealed that there were fewer tourists in the first three months of this year, not only in the capital New Delhi but throughout the country.

Overall, 25 percent fewer tourists came to India, according to the study. If one considers however the number of the female visitors, even a decrease of 35 per cent is to be recognized. "The sexual assaults were identified as the main reason," explained Negi. Official tourist figures are not yet available for the period from the beginning of January to the end of March. The government counted an increase of almost six percent in 2012 compared to the previous year. According to the report, 6.5 million people visited the subcontinent last year.

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