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India Gang Rape Suspect Hangs Himself

Suicide ropeOne of the men accused of raping and fatally beating a woman in a gang assault on a New Delhi bus has committed suicide, an official said Monday.

Ram Singh hanged himself in his jail cell, Devendra Arya, additional deputy commissioner of police in New Delhi, told CNN.

Singh was housed in the city’s Tihar Prisons.

He was one of five men charged with murder, rape and kidnapping in connection with the horrific attack.

The men’s trial began in February and, if convicted, they could face the death penalty.

A sixth suspect is 17 and will be tried separately in juvenile court.

The attack on the 23-year-old woman in New Delhi on December 16 prompted angry protests over the country’s treatment of women and handling of sexual attacks.

The victim died in a Singapore hospital in late December. Her male companion survived with a broken leg.

The case gripped India and led to calls for stricter laws on sexual assault and changes in cultural attitudes toward women 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.

A panel appointed by India’s home affairs minister as a result of the case criticized Indian attitudes toward sexual assault and called for policy changes, including creating an offense of gang-rape punishable by at least 20 years in prison, making it a crime for police to fail to investigate sexual assault complaints and making it illegal to consider character or previous sexual experience of the victim at a criminal trial.

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