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Rape suspects face execution

NEW DELHI – Indian authorities on Thursday said they will seek the death penalty against five men accused of raping and fatally beating a woman on a bus in the country’s capital, an attack that has sparked a wave of protests over the mistreatment of women.

Authorities also said they have established a special fast-track court to expedite the cases of the men, who face a host of charges including murder, rape, kidnapping and destruction of evidence. The 23-year-old victim died Saturday of injuries suffered in the attack.

The woman, a university student, had boarded a bus in New Delhi with a male companion Dec. 16 when her attackers shut the bus’s curtains, gang-raped her, and beat her and her companion repeatedly with iron rods, according to authorities. The victims allegedly were then thrown off the bus, naked and unconscious, onto the roadside.

A sixth defendant is a juvenile under Indian law and faces a maximum of three years in jail if convicted.

The case has generated outrage, with demonstrators amassing in the streets daily and demanding sweeping reforms. Gang rape is common in India, and even when cases make it to court, they often linger there for years.