5 men confess to gang-raping Swiss tourist in India

NEW DELHI (CNN) — Five men have confessed to gang-raping a Swiss tourist in central India, authorities said Sunday.

Police said they will give out more information at a news conference later in the day.

Confessions in police custody are not admissible in court, however, and can be retracted.

The woman was camping near a forest in India’s Datia district with her husband when a group of men beat the husband and raped her, the district’s deputy superintendent of police, R.S. Prajapati, said.

There were between five and seven attackers, he said.

The couple arrived in Mumbai on February 3 and were on a cycling tour across the country, said D.K. Arya, deputy inspector general of police.

The attackers stole a laptop, 10,000 rupees (US $185) and a mobile phone, he said. The victims went to police and the woman was hospitalized and later released.

Twenty people have been detained for questioning, Arya said.

The couple is staying at a guesthouse in the Datia district while the investigation unfolds, he said.

The Swiss ambassador to India, Linus von Castelmur, has spoken with the couple and offered any support they will need.

“Their health and treatment is the priority of the moment,” the ambassador said in a statement. “The embassy has also been in touch with the local authorities and has requested for swift investigation and for justice to be done.”

The attack comes at a time in India when there are calls for stricter laws on sexual assault and changes in cultural attitudes toward women.

In December a 23-year-old woman was gang-raped on a New Dehli bus, spurring protests 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. That woman later died in a Singapore hospital.

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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