Five of the six accused in the bus gang rape case, which stunned India and caused massive protests, arrived at a court in New Delhi on Monday (January 28).
A 23-year-old was raped by six people and tortured with an iron bar on a bus, then left bleeding on a highway on the night of December 16, 2012, which stunned the nation and generated an unprecedented wave of protests calling for better security for women.
In the case, because the woman died of her injuries, the five accused have been charged with murder and face the death penalty if found guilty. The victim died of massive organ damage in a Singapore hospital two weeks after the attack.
The case is being taken up by a specially constituted fast track session's court.
Prosecutors say a DNA investigation of bloodstained clothes and body swabs has linked all five men and a juvenile accused of the gang rape and murder to the crime, providing evidence the prosecution claims will be enough to convict them.
They say their case will also hinge on cell phone records and on testimony from the dying woman and a male companion who was attacked with her.
However, the case against the men may not be open and shut in a country where shoddy forensic practices are one of the chief reasons for a low conviction rate in rape trials.
New Delhi has the highest number of sex crimes among India's major cities, with a rape reported on average every 18 hours, according to police figures. Government data show the number of reported rape cases in the country rose by nearly 17 percent between 2007 and 2011.
India's criminal justice system is widely seen to have failed women who are sexually assaulted. One woman is raped every 20 minutes in India, according to government statistics, but the conviction rate is among the lowest in the world and one of the key reasons is lack of proper investigation.