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Strong evidence against Delhi rape suspects, prosecutor says

An Indian family lights candles in memory of a gang-rape victim in New Delhi, India, Saturday, Jan. 5, 2013.

Altaf Qadri/AP

A public prosecutor said Saturday there was strong forensic evidence against five men accused of gang-raping a student in New Delhi on a moving bus as their trial began in a city court.

A district magistrate hearing the case took note of the charges including rape and murder on Saturday, signalling the start of the trial, and ordered the men to appear before her for the first time on Monday.

"We have filed all the evidence," Rajiv Mohan, additional public prosecutor, told the court in Saket in the south of the city.

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"The blood of the victim tallied with the stains found on the clothes of the accused," he added, saying that a DNA test had been conducted by the police.

He also said that police had recovered possessions stolen from the victim and her male friend, who were thrown out of the vehicle at the end of their ordeal.

As well as the forensic and other evidence, the woman's boyfriend has testified to police and has reportedly identified the culprits.

Mr. Mohan said that the woman had died last weekend of "septicemia [blood poisoning] from multi-organ failure due to multi-organ injury" after she was repeatedly raped and violated with an iron bar.

Speaking to AFP, the presiding magistrate Namrita Aggarwal confirmed she had "taken cognizance" of the charges, adding that this meant the trial had begun.

"They (the suspects) will be produced in court on Monday," she added.

The men, aged from 19 to 35, had been expected to be tried in a different fast-track court amid a clamour for their conviction and warnings from the chief justice that due processes must be followed.

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A sixth suspect arrested by police is believed to be a minor, but he is undergoing a bone test to check his age.

Executions are rare in India, but can be sanctioned for the "rarest of rare" crimes.

A day earlier, the man who was assaulted with the victim made his first public comments about the attack.

Passersby left the woman lying unclothed and bleeding in the street for almost an hour, he said Friday.

The graphic account from the man in a television interview is likely to add fuel to public anger over the death in a country where official statistics show one rape is reported every 20 minutes.

The woman's friend told the Zee News television network he was beaten unconscious with a metal bar by her attackers before the pair were thrown from the bus.

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They lay in the street for 45 minutes before a police van arrived and officers then spent a long time arguing about where to take them, the man said.

"We kept shouting at the police, 'Please give us some clothes' but they were busy deciding which police station our case should be registered at," the man said in Hindi.

Delhi police spokesman Rajan Bhagat told Reuters GPS records show the first police van reached the scene four minutes after it was called and took the man and the woman to hospital within 24 minutes.

The man, who said he was "in love" with the victim but declined to comment on statements from friends that they were to marry, told AFP how events had quickly spiralled out of control on the bus.

The couple had been to see the film Life of Pi at an upmarket shopping mall and were finding it difficult to flag down a rickshaw afterwards.

"I was not very confident about getting into the bus but my friend was running late, so we got into it. This was the biggest mistake I made and after that everything went out of control," he said.

The boyfriend told how the driver and his accomplices allegedly made lewd remarks before stopping the vehicle and locking the doors.

"They hit me with a small stick and dragged my friend to a seat near the driver's cabin," he said.

After that the "driver and the other men raped my friend and hit her in the worst possible ways in the most private parts of her body."

"I cannot tell you what I feel when I think of it. I shiver in pain," he said, adding that police had eventually arrived but were dismissive of their mental condition.

"I was treated like an object by the police... They wanted all the help to solve the case even before getting me the right treatment," he said.

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