India to exhume gang-rape victims

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iol pic wld India Rape Investigation AP In this file photo, a police dog stands near the tree where two teenage girls were found hanging after they were gang raped in Katra village in the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh state. Picture: Rajeev Pal, File

Lucknow, India -

Federal investigators plan to exhume the bodies of two teenage girls raped and killed by attackers who hanged their bodies from a tree in northern India six weeks ago, a police official said on Tuesday.

The Central Bureau of Investigation, India's FBI, sought the permission of the girls' families to conduct a second autopsy. The cousins' bodies were found on May 28 in their tiny home village of Katra, about 300 kilometres from Lucknow, the Uttar Pradesh state capital.

State investigators had conducted an autopsy soon after the bodies were found. However, the examination “left many questions unanswered,” making the second autopsy necessary, the police official said. He did not give any details.

The police official was speaking on customary condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to the media.

The families of the girls demanded the killings be investigated by the federal agency to ensure impartiality.

Five men arrested in connection with the deaths and the girls' family members have undergone lie-detector tests in the past week. The tests were conducted by the CBI as part of their investigation.

India has a long history of tolerance of sexual violence, but the attack on the girls has caused outrage across the nation. Public anger was reminiscent of the reaction to the December 2012 fatal gang rape of a 23-year-old woman aboard a moving bus in New Delhi, India's capital.

After that attack, the federal government changed India's sex crime laws, doubling prison terms for rapists to 20 years and criminalising voyeurism, stalking and the trafficking of women. The law also makes it a crime for officers to refuse to open cases when complaints are made. - Sapa-AP


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