6 men arrested in gang rape of Swiss tourist in India

By Harmeet Shah Singh and Sumnima Udas, CNN

New Delhi (CNN) — Six men have been arrested following the gang-rape and robbery of a Swiss tourist in central India and are due to appear in court Monday, police officials said.

The Swiss woman and her husband were on a cycling tour across India and had set up camp near a forest in Datia district last week when a group of men allegedly assaulted them, beating the husband and raping the wife, according to police.

The case has focused fresh attention on sexual assaults in India following the gang-rape of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi in December, which provoked outrage across the country and abroad.

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The men accused of attacking the Swiss couple last week are members of a local tribe who live near where the couple were camping, said D.K. Arya, deputy inspector general of police.

Investigators have recovered valuables stolen from couple during the attack, police said Monday, including a laptop computer, a mobile phone and 10,000 rupees ($185).

The woman, who was briefly hospitalized after the attack, alleges that four of the men raped her, according to Inspector-General S.M. Afzal. The other two men arrested by police are suspected of involvement in robbing the couple, he said.

Afzal said the six suspects had confessed. But confessions in custody are not admissible as evidence in Indian courts.

Police have sent blood samples from the men for DNA testing.

The couple, who had been staying at a guesthouse in Datia district during the investigation, is in New Delhi at the moment, according to Afzal. Police have asked them to return to Datia for a possible identification of the accused men, he said.

Linus von Castelmur, the Swiss ambassador to India, said in a statement Monday that the couple were currently recovering at the embassy in New Delhi but had “expressed their readiness to fully cooperate in the ongoing investigation and identification process.”

They plan to stay in India for the time being, he said.

The case comes at a time in India when there are calls for stricter laws on sexual assault and changes in cultural attitudes toward women.

The December gang-rape on the New Dehli bus spurred protests in India, where most women have stories of sexual harassment and abuse on public transportation or on the streets, according to the Indian Council on Global Relations.

The victim of that attack later died in a Singapore hospital.

Police charged five men with murder, rape and kidnapping in the case. Last week, one of the accused died in custody.

Police said the accused man, Ram Singh, hanged himself in a jail cell, but his lawyer and parents claim he was murdered.

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