Sunday, March 17, 2013

India: Update--New Information on Gang-Rape of Swiss Tourist, Beating of Her Husband

As a follow-up to my posting of yesterday (March 16), and according to Australia's Herald Sun, the robbery, beating and gang-rape sustained by a married couple from Switzerland, reportedly involved the wife being repeatedly raped by an estimated five to six local farmers. Subsequently, the farmers confessed to the attack as the police investigation finally beginning to take form. The robbery and gang-rape occurred on March 15.

The farmers not only stole valuables and money from the couple, including a laptop computer and a mobile phone, which have been recovered, but in a demented moment the assailants beat the husband severely, tied him up and forced him to watch his wife being repeatedly raped.

Sadly, the farmers converged on the couple just as they prepared to make camp, not far from Agra, as they had planned to visit the Taj Mahal on Saturday (March 16). 

COMMENT: Apparently the farmers were driving by the couple on Friday when they saw them making camp and "hatched" a night of terror for two Swiss tourists who only wanted to see and enjoy India together. Conversely, their lives have been changed forever.

The couple's laptop was buried under a pile of leaves nearby and the mobile phone was recovered from the home of the mother-in-law of one of the assailants.

The five arrested assailants face charges of rape and robbery. The sixth suspect is expected to face the same charges.

Unfortunately, the confessions of the assailants may well be deemed inadmissible under Indian law, largely because prosecutors were not present at the time.

The rapists live in a village near the scene of the assault, which took place about 70 kilometers (44 miles) from the nearest town of Gwalior, which is about 290 kilometers south of New Delhi.

After the attack, the 39-year-old rape victim and her husband, a 30-year-old mechanic, stopped a motorcyclist who took them to the nearest police station.

The couple is now recovering in New Delhi and has been in touch with their family members back home.

Seemingly, the Swiss Foreign Ministry had issued an advisory for Swiss nationals travelling in India last month [February], warning that sexual violence was on the rise across the country, and urging both women and men to travel in large groups and with local guides.

Under a new bill approved by India's cabinet last week, rapists face a minimum 20-year jail term and the death penalty if the victim dies from injuries or is left in a persistent vegetative state.