NEW DELHI: The case of five men accused of the gang-rape and murder of a student on a New Delhi bus was set to be transferred to a fast-track trial court Saturday, as her boyfriend recounted for the first time his efforts to save her.
The horrifying crime has appalled India and brought simmering anger over widespread crime against women to the boil amid demands for safer streets, more sensitive policing and a change in social attitudes.
Adding to the soul-searching underway was the first description of events from the boyfriend of the 23-year-old physiotherapy student, who was with her when they were attacked.
The 28-year-old recounted in an interview and in his first TV appearance how passers-by had failed to come to their rescue after they were thrown out of the moving vehicle bleeding and naked after their ordeal.
He also criticised police for failing to be sensitive to their mental condition after the attack, and raised questions about the emergency care given in the public hospital that admitted his girlfriend.
"The cruelty I saw should not be seen ever," the man, who cannot be named for legal reasons, told of the savagery of the assault, which left the woman with such serious internal injuries that she died last weekend.
"I tried to fight against the men but later I begged them again and again to leave her," he said from his family's home in rural northern India where he is taking time out from his job at a software firm in the capital.
Police arrested six suspects soon after the attack and formally charged five of them in court on Thursday with murder, rape and kidnap. One of them claims to be a juvenile aged 17, who is undergoing a bone test to check his age.
A district court was due to hold its second hearing Saturday and is expected to transfer the case of the five men to a special "fast-track" court set up amid a public outcry and demands for the culprits to be hanged.
Police maintained a heavy presence at the court in south Delhi and it was unclear if the suspects would appear for the first time together. By lunchtime, the magistrate was yet to hear the case.
In his interviews, the boyfriend decried how passersby had ignored their pleas for help and clothing. Police took 45 minutes to reach the scene and then argued over who had jurisdiction, he claimed.
"They could have taken us to hospital, given us clothes in that crucial one and half hours. For a dying person every minute is important," he told the Hindi-language Zee News channel.
Police told on Saturday they had filed a case against the channel because the interview -- which showed the boyfriend's face unobscured -- had illegally disclosed the identity of a rape victim.
The Committee to Protect Journalists criticised the move in a statement.
The man, who said he was "in love" with the victim but declined to comment on statements from friends that they were to marry in his interview, told how events had quickly spiralled out of control on the bus.
The couple had been to see the film "Life of Pi" at an upmarket shopping mall and were finding it difficult to find transport to return home afterwards.
"I was not very confident about getting into the bus but my friend was running late, so we got into it. This was the biggest mistake I made and after that everything went out of control," he said.
The boyfriend told how the driver and his accomplices allegedly made lewd remarks before stopping the vehicle and locking the doors.
"They hit me with a small stick and dragged my friend to a seat near the driver's cabin," he said.
After that the "driver and the other men raped my friend and hit her in the worst possible ways in the most private parts of her body".
"I cannot tell you what I feel when I think of it. I shiver in pain," he said.
"I was treated like an object by the police... They wanted all the help to solve the case even before getting me the right treatment," he said.
He added that he was "not satisfied" at the treatment his girlfriend was given at the government-run Safdarjung Hospital.
The man's father also spoke to AFP by telephone, saying his son was still in a state of shock but that he was proud he had done his best to defend the woman.
"He saw the gruesome crime being committed in front of his eyes. It will take some time for him to heal mentally," he said.
"He has started eating home food and is feeling much better after leaving Delhi. My son fought bravely. He tried until the very end to save the girl and I am proud of him."