Briefly: Judge sends rape case to new fast-track court

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NEW DELHI — An Indian magistrate on Thursday ordered the trial of five men accused in the fatal gang rape and beating of a young woman on a bus to be shifted to a special fast-track court in New Delhi.

The rape of the 23-year-old student last month set off protests in New Delhi and sparked a national debate about the treatment of women across the country and the inability of law enforcement to protect them.

In an effort to address some of that criticism, the government set up five fast-track courts in the capital in recent weeks to deal swiftly with crimes against women.

Authorities were eager to move the case into one of those courts, which are designed to avoid the delays, incompetence and corruption that plague much of India’s legal system.

Magistrate Namrita Aggarwal dealt with several procedural issues during a session Thursday morning, and then reconvened the court in the afternoon for a second session at which she ordered the transfer to a fast-track court.

The first hearing is to be held there Monday.

A sixth suspect in the attack claims to be a juvenile and his case is being handled separately.

PHILIPPINES

Son of general slain in ‘77 now country’s military chief

MANILA — The son of a Philippine army general killed with 34 of his men by Muslim guerrillas in a 1977 massacre assumed the country’s top military post Thursday, calling on insurgents to abandon their decades-long rebellions and vowing to respect human rights in all military campaigns.

Lt. Gen. Emmanuel Bautista said in austere ceremonies led by President Benigno Aquino III that the 120,000-strong military needed to be freed up from counterinsurgency operations to allow government troops to focus on other urgent tasks, including strengthening the country’s territorial defense.

The Philippines has had territorial rifts recently with China over disputed South China Sea areas.

Gen. Bautista, 54, said he was dedicating the final chapter of his military career to his father, a one-star army general who was gunned down with his men by Muslim rebels from the Moro National Liberation Front who had invited him to a peace dialogue in the coastal town of Patikul in October 1977 on Jolo island.

INDONESIA

20,000 people evacuated as floods paralyze capital

JAKARTA — Indonesia’s army deployed rubber boats in the capital’s business district on Thursday to rescue people trapped in floods that inundated much of the city of 14 million people.

The president was pictured standing in water up to his shins — his trousers rolled up — at the palace waiting for the arrival of Argentina’s leader on a state visit.

The floods were the most widespread to hit Jakarta in recent memory.

Authorities said at least four people were killed and 20,000 evacuated. Many more homes were inundated following around five hours of heavy overnight rain that coursed through rivers already swollen by a long monsoon season.

Few areas in the city were spared, from wealthy suburbs to riverside slums and gleaming downtown business blocks. Offices and schools were deserted and traffic ground to a halt.

The international airport was operating normally, but travelers were finding it hard to get there.

The city has long been prone to floods, but successive governments have done little to mitigate the threat.

Deforestation in the hills to the south of the city, chaotic planning and the rubbish that clogs the hundreds of rivers and waterways that crisscross the city are some of the factors contributing to the flooding.

From wire dispatches and staff reports

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