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India jails 3 Nepalese for US tourist rape Judge orders three ‘to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 20 years’

NEW DELHI, Dec 18, (AFP): An Indian court on Tuesday sentenced three Nepalese men to 20 years in jail for the gangrape of a US tourist in June, an attack that fuelled worries over the safety of foreign travellers. A district judge handed down the punishment at the end of a trial for the three men in the northern state of Himachal Pradesh, local police said in a statement.

The judge ordered the three “to undergo rigorous imprisonment for 20 years,” Vinod Kumar Dhawan, who headed the police team investigating the assault, said in the statement. The men, who were arrested two days after the attack, were held guilty of rape, robbery and criminal conspiracy. “The prosecution has established the role of each of the accused in the commission of the horrific crime,” Dhawan, the district police superintendent, said. The sentence, meted out six months after the attack, comes one day after India marked the one-year anniversary of the fatal gang-rape of a student that drew global attention to sex crimes against women in India.

The 23-year-old Indian student died of her injuries two weeks after the attack on a moving bus in Delhi by a pack of six men. Four of the adult attackers have been sentenced to death in the case. The savage attack spurred intense debate about the way India treats its women, and led to a toughening of punishments for sexual crimes, including doubling the minimum prison sentence for gang-rape to 20 years. In June, the US woman, 30, had accepted a lift in a truck at night in Manali, a tourist destination in the foothills of the Himalayas, after struggling to find a taxi to return to her hotel.

The American, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, told police the truck driver and his two accomplices took her to a secluded spot where they raped her for over an hour. She gave police a description of the men and also identified the truck model, which is commonly used to transport construction materials in the state.

The prosecution linked “each thread of scientific, physical and circumstantial evidence” to prove the guilt of the accused, the police statement said. The attack on the tourist was one of a series of assaults on foreigners visiting India this year. In March, a 39-year-old Swiss cyclist holidaying with her husband in the central state of Madhya Pradesh was gangraped by six men, all of whom were sentenced to life imprisonment three months later

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