New autopsy of gang-raped Indian girls due on Sunday: Official

NEW DELHI (AFP) - A second autopsy on the bodies of two teenage girls found hanging from a tree in northern India after being gang-raped should take place this weekend on police orders, an official said on Thursday.

The brutal rape and killing of the two cousins, aged 14 and 15, in an impoverished village in Uttar Pradesh state in May, sparked public outrage after the family complained of police apathy towards them because they came from a lower caste.

India's Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which has taken charge of the case, will most likely re-examine the girls' bodies on Sunday on the recommendation of a medical team due to shortcomings in the first procedure.

"Tentatively, the exhumation may take place on July 20 subject to approval from appropriate authorities," CBI spokesman Kanchan Prasad said, according to the Press Trust of India news agency.

The CBI is awaiting a go-ahead from the local Uttar Pradesh state authorities to proceed with the second autopsy.

The 20-year-old brother of one of the girls, who cannot be named for legal reasons, had staged a protest in New Delhi earlier this month demanding justice for his sister and cousin.

The young man, who said he lost his menial job at an automaker due to his absence from work following the killings, said he wanted the case transferred out of Uttar Pradesh, alleging that political pressure was hampering the investigation.

Five men were arrested over the attack which took place when the cousins went into the fields to relieve themselves because their homes in Badaun district, like most in their village, lacked toilets.

Rights groups and political opponents have accused Uttar Pradesh's government of failing to tackle crimes against women.

India revised its laws on sex attacks in the wake of the December 2012 gang-rape of a student on a bus in New Delhi which triggered worldwide outrage, but they have done little to stem the tide of sex attacks.