India court jails three for rape of Japanese tourist

JAIPUR, India (AFP) - An Indian court Friday convicted three men over the February rape of a young Japanese tourist and sentenced them each to 20 years in jail, the public prosecutor said.

The assault on the 20-year-old woman in the western state of Rajasthan was the latest in a string of high-profile sex attacks that have highlighted high levels of violence against women in the world's second most populous country.

The woman told police that one of those convicted, Ajit Singh Choudhary, met her outside her hotel in Jaipur and offered to show her around on his motorbike, before drugging and raping her in a secluded area of the historic city.

The court in the Rajasthani capital convicted three of the nine defendants of gang rape, while another three were convicted of harbouring an offender and sentenced to two years in jail.

"Six accused were found guilty and three (of these) have been jailed for 20 years, including the main accused," public prosecutor Bhanwar Singh Chauhan told AFP.

The court acquitted the remaining three defendants citing lack of evidence.

Indian laws state that if a woman is raped by one or more people "acting in furtherance of their common intention", each can be deemed to have committed gang rape, meaning all nine were charged with the crime.

Police completed their investigations in March and the case was resolved unusually swiftly for India, where the legal system is notoriously slow.

Sexual violence continues to be a major problem in India more than three years after the 2012 fatal gang rape of a student in New Delhi that unleashed public outrage about treatment of women in the country.

India introduced tough laws against sex offenders in the wake of the nation-wide protests, including setting up of hundreds of special courts to prosecute sexual violence cases.

More than 132,000 cases of sexual violence against women were reported in India in 2014, according to official data released by National Crimes Records Bureau.