Indian court lifts ban on media coverage of bus gang rape trial

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A court has ruled that Indian media will now be allowed to cover the trial of four men accused of the gang rape and fatal beating of a woman on a New Delhi bus.

Journalists had been barred from entering the courtroom or reporting details of the trial, which is already under way in a special fast-track court in the capital. But the Delhi High Court lifted the gagging order yesterday.

The ruling by Justice Rajiv Shakdher said one representative from national Indian daily newspapers and one from local wire services would be allowed into the court and then will be expected to brief reporters outside, according to the Press Trust of India.

The journalists will still be barred from naming the victim, her family and witnesses.

The 23-year-old student and a male friend were attacked when they boarded a private bus they thought was taking them home after seeing a film at an upmarket shopping mall on December 16.

Six attackers beat the man and raped the woman, inflicting massive internal injuries with a metal bar, police said.

The victims were dumped on the roadside, and the woman died two weeks later in a Singapore hospital.

Five men were originally on trial, but one was found dead in his jail cell earlier this month in an incident authorities said was suicide. A sixth suspect is being tried as a juvenile.

Yesterday’s court ruling came just a day after Parliament passed a sweeping new law to protect women against sexual violence in response to the rape. The law provides for the death penalty for repeat offenders or for rape attacks that lead to the victim’s death.