India fears violence as Dara Singh and a dozen others are found guilty of murdering missionary and sons
After a two-and-a-half-year trial, a court in the capital of Orissa state, India, found radical Hindu activist Dara Singh (a.k.a Ravindra Kumar Pal) and 12 others guilty of the 1999 murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons.
Staines and his sons, ages 8 and 10, were sleeping in their Jeep outside a church in the Orissa town of Manoharpur when a mob, led by Dara Singh, attacked the vehicle, dousing it with gasoline and setting it ablaze. "Justice has been done!" some shouted. "The Christians have been cremated in Hindu fashion." According to some eyewitnesses, the mob kept the fire going for more than an hour, threatening would-be rescuers.
Police had originally arrested 53 men in connection with the attack, and later charged 18 of them along with Dara Singh, who was in hiding for a year. By the time the case went to trial, the number had been whittled down to 14. One of them was acquitted yesterday for lack of evidence.
The other 13, meanwhile, now face a possible death sentence. Judge Mahendra Nath Pattnaik promised to sentence the murderers next Monday, but the case has been delayed so often that it would not be terribly surprising if the sentencing was postponed too.
John Staines, Graham's brother, says he doesn't want the men executed. "We have forgiven them in Christ's name," he told the Associated Press. "I think that these men have to face up to what they've done. By the same token, I don't want to see them put to death over it."
Prosecutor Sudhakar Rao was expectedly pleased with the verdict. "We are 100 percent satisfied," he said. "It is the triumph of truth."
Dara Singh's lawyer, meanwhile, promised ...1
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