India gang-rape: Men admit killing and raping teenage girls hanged from tree

 

Three men have confessed to the gang rape and killing of two teenage girls who were found hanging from a tree, police said on Sunday, in a case that has again highlighted rampant sexual violence in India.

Authorities continued to search for two additional suspects in last week’s attack on the 14 and 15-year-old cousins in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh, police officer Atul Saxena said.

The girls, from an impoverished family in the village of Katra, about 180 miles from Lucknow, the state capital, disappeared last Tuesday night after going into fields to relieve themselves.

After the girls were found hanging from a mango tree on Wednesday, hundreds of angry villagers stayed there, demanding police find the attackers before allowing them to remove the bodies. Television stations showed footage of the villagers sitting beneath the tree as the girls’ bodies swung in the wind.

Police arrested two suspects on Wednesday and another on Saturday. When questioned, the men admitted that they had attacked the girls,  Mr Saxena said.

 

The suspects, who are cousins in their 20s, face murder and rape charges, crimes punishable by the death penalty.

Authorities also have arrested two police officers and suspended two others for failing to investigate when the father of one of the teenagers reported the girls missing on Tuesday night.

Federal authorities are expected to take over investigation into the case this week, Mr Saxena said.

India has a long history of tolerance for sexual violence, but the latest attack has caused nationwide outrage, and is reminiscent of the reaction to the December 2012 murder of a 23-year-old woman who was gang-raped on a moving bus in the capital, Delhi. 

The outcry following that attack led the federal government to rush through legislation 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 police officers to refuse to investigate cases when complaints are made.

AP

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