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Mumbai gang rape: Government pledges fast-track trial

image captionHundreds of people in Mumbai took part in a march to protest against the gang rape

The trial in last Thursday's gang rape of a 22-year-old photojournalist in the Indian city of Mumbai will be fast-tracked, Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan has pledged.

Mr Chavan said "stringent action will be taken against the culprits". Five men have been arrested for the crime.

The woman was attacked at an abandoned textile mill in the city. She was on assignment with a male colleague.

The case has renewed public outrage over sexual violence in India.

A 19-year-old unemployed man from south Mumbai was first arrested on Friday, and police made another two arrests on Saturday.

The remaining two were arrested on Sunday. The last suspect was arrested in the capital, Delhi, police said.

'Severest of punishment'

"The case will be tried in a fast-track court to ensure speedy justice to the victim," news agency Press Trust of India (PTI) quoted Mr Chavan as telling reporters on Sunday evening.

The chief minister said he had requested noted criminal lawyer Ujjwal Nikam, who represented the government in the Mumbai attacks case, to be the prosecutor in the gang rape case.

"The state wanted to engage the best legal talent in the case and see that maximum punishment is meted out to the culprits," Mr Chavan said.

Mr Nikam said the chief minister had telephoned him and "I have agreed to take up the case".

Meanwhile, the family of the female victim issued a statement on Sunday evening requesting privacy for their family.

"We are... optimistic that... the government's efforts will help fast track the matter so that the severest of punishment is meted out.

"This will ensure that even the most sick-minded think twice before they act in such an inhuman and insensitive way," the statement said.

The victim, who is in hospital with multiple injuries, has said she is anxious to return to work after the attack.

"Rape is not the end of life. I want the strictest punishment for all the accused," she said.

An intern with a Mumbai-based English magazine, she had gone to the Shakti Mills - a former textile mill that now lies abandoned and in ruins - with her male colleague for a photo shoot when the attack happened.

Her colleague was beaten during the assault.

There were nationwide protests last December following the gang-rape of a 23-year-old student on a bus in the capital, Delhi. She later died from her injuries.

The case led to the introduction of tougher laws against sexual violence, but many are asking whether these have had any effect.