New Delhi gang-rape trial opens

New Delhi gang-rape trial opens

New Delhi gang-rape trial opens

Updated 6 February 2013, 0:56 AEDT

A witness in a wheelchair gives evidence at the start of the New Delhi trial of five men accused of raping and murdering a student.

The trial of five men accused of the brutal gang rape and murder of a student in New Delhi has opened with testimony from a key witness.

The companion of the 23-year-old medical student identified the bus on which she was attacked.

The 28-year-old man, confined to a wheelchair after the attack, confirmed that a white bus was the vehicle on which the assault took place on December 16, his father told AFP.

"Yes, my son could identify the bus. The cross-examination is going to start now," said the father, whose son cannot be named for legal reasons.

The judge has banned all reporting of proceedings inside the courtroom and ordered lawyers not to speak to journalists.

After being taken to inspect the bus the young man returned to the courtroom, where he was expected to be cross-examined by lawyers for the five adults accused.

They have all denied murder, rape and robbery charges.

A sixth defendant is being tried separately as a juvenile.

Police say the men lured the woman on to a bus in the capital city, then repeatedly raped and assaulted her with a metal bar before throwing her on to a highway.

She died of internal injuries two weeks later.

Outrage over the crime prompted the government to hastily pass new legislation allowing for harsher penalties for sex crimes, including the death penalty.

The prosecution says it has large swathes of evidence, including DNA samples, the victim's blood-stained clothes, mobile phone records and eyewitness testimony.

The defence is expected to argue the evidence has been fabricated.

The trial is being held in front of one of India's recently created fast-track courts, aimed at dealing justice swiftly in a country where cases can often languish for years in the legal system.

It will be held before a judge, but no jury, and media will not be allowed inside the courtroom.