In a case that garnered international attention, five of the six men were found guilty of rape, while the sixth was found guilty of banditry and assault
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A fast track court in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh has sentenced six men to life imprisonment following the gang rape of a Swiss woman in March.
Special Judge Jitendra Kumar Sharma found the six men aged between 20 and 30 years old guilty of involvement in the violent sexual attack on the 39-year-old, which made headlines worldwide. It took place in front of her male partner while they were camping in a wood in Datia district.
Five of the six defendants were found guilty of the rape. One faced lesser charges of banditry and assault after a DNA match could not be found, but still received a life sentence for his part in the case. All were fined 10,000 rupees (US$167).
Police said they had difficulty finding the culprits – all residents of Kanjar Tola Settlement, 2 km from the scene – because the attack took place at night. The victim had turned down an identity parade, saying she had not been able to see those responsible.
“It was a very difficult case to crack,” DK Arya, deputy inspector general of police for Chambal Range, told ucanews.com.
He added that recording a statement from the victim had also been hard, because she returned to Switzerland after the attack.
Police spoke with the Swiss embassy in New Delhi to request that she return for the trial. Her statements were recorded via videoconferencing by a special commission in the Swiss embassy on May 25.
Stolen items retrieved from the men, including a laptop, helped police to identify them.
The victim was cycling with her partner to Agra, home of the Taj Mahal, when they decided to sleep in a makeshift tent in the wood in Datia district.
The case is among a number of high profile rape incidents to occur in India recently, including a similar attack on an American woman last month, which have sparked widespread outrage.