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Originally published Saturday, December 29, 2012 at 4:55 PM

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6 accused in rape case in India charged with murder

As protests grew in India on Saturday over the death of a young woman who was raped in New Delhi this month by several men in a moving bus, the police said six men accused of attacking her had been charged with murder.

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NEW DELHI — As protests grew in India on Saturday over the death of a young woman who was raped in New Delhi this month by several men in a moving bus, the police said six men accused of attacking her had been charged with murder.

A police spokesman, Rajan Bhagat, said that if convicted of murder, the men could face the death penalty. The Dec. 16 attack, which shocked India because of its savagery, led to violent protests and prompted demands for improved protection for women as well as calls for the death penalty in rape cases.

The country's Supreme Court ruled in 1980 that the death penalty should be used only in the "rarest of rare" cases, and fewer than 50 people have been executed since India's independence in 1947.

The woman, who has not been identified, has become a symbol for the treatment of women in India, where rape is common and conviction rates for the crime are low. She boarded a bus with a male friend after watching a movie at a mall, and was raped and attacked with an iron rod by the men, who police later said had been drinking and were on a "joy ride."

She died Saturday morning in Singapore, where she had been flown for treatment for the severe internal injuries caused by the assault. Her body was flown back to India on Saturday.

As news of her death spread Saturday, India's young, social-network-using population began to organize protests and candlelight vigils in places including the western city of Cochin in Kerala, and New Delhi.

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