Uber cabby pleads not guilty, faces fast-track rape trial in India

NEW DELHI (AFP) - An Uber taxi driver accused of raping a woman passenger in New Delhi will go on trial in a fast-track court this week after entering a not guilty plea Tuesday.

Shiv Kumar Yadav, 32, will go on trial on charges of rape, kidnap and criminal intimidation on Thursday, less than six weeks after the alleged attack on his passenger as she returned home from dinner with friends.

India's legal system is usually notoriously sluggish and rape victims can often wait years for justice.

But the authorities set up a series of special courts two years ago in the wake of a fatal gang-rape of a medical student on a bus in New Delhi which triggered mass protests.

The alleged attack in the taxi on Dec 5 again raised the issue of women's safety in Delhi, which has been dubbed India's "rape capital" after a string of high-profile sex assaults.

During Tuesday's hearing before Additional Sessions Judge Kaveri Baweja, police told the court that they plan to field at least 44 prosecution witnesses and produce forensic evidence to bolster their case.

Uber was banned from operating in Delhi after the attack, with authorities accusing the Web-based firm of failing to perform adequate background checks.