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Last Updated: Monday, 15 September, 2003, 15:32 GMT 16:32 UK
Missionary killers convicted
Jeep in which Graham Staines and his two sons were burnt alive
The Staines were burnt alive
The main accused in the murder of an Australian missionary, Graham Staines, and his two young sons has been found guilty in an Indian court.

Dara Singh and 12 others were convicted at a special court in the eastern state of Orissa. Another person was let off for lack of evidence.

The men stood trial on charges of burning Mr Staines alive, along with his sons - Philip, who was 10, and Timothy, eight.

Sentence will be passed on 22 September. The men could receive the death penalty.

Mr Staines had spent 30 years working with leprosy patients in Orissa. His widow, Gladys, still lives in India, continuing the work.

She said she had full faith in India's judiciary and had forgiven her husband's killers.

"The Bible teaches us to do these things," she told the BBC.

Jeep torched

The Staines died when the jeep they were sleeping in was torched outside a church in the remote village of Manoharpur in Orissa in January 1999.

The Bible teaches us that we are to forgive others. I realised that if we don't forgive, we let bitterness come into our own lives
Gladys Staines
The killings sparked condemnation in India and around the world.

Right-wing Hindus who complained that Hindus were being pressured to convert to Christianity were blamed at the time of the attack.

However, an official inquiry into the attack said there was no evidence organised Hindu groups were behind it.

Two years ago, a boy, Sudershan Hansda, was convicted in relation to the killings and sentenced to seven years in a juvenile home.

'Sufficient evidence'

The accused men have been on trial for the past two-and-a-half years.

Indian Ravindra Pal alias Dara Singh arrives at a special court in Bhubaneshwar
Singh could receive the death penalty
In his final statement at the closing of the trial, their lawyer, Bramhananda Panda, said: "All of them were innocent and should be set free."

But prosecutor Sudhakar Rao said "all [the defendants] were involved in the crime" and there was sufficient evidence to prove this.

Dara Singh is also accused of organising attacks on a Muslim businessman and Roman Catholic priest after the Staines were killed.

Police believe villagers helped him hide for a year out of sympathy with his campaign against Muslims and Christians.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Navdip Dhariwal reports from Delhi
"The brutal killings were condemned throughout India and around the world"



SEE ALSO:
India missionary death trial ends
18 Aug 03  |  South Asia
Fears for India's secularism
06 Jun 03  |  South Asia
Hindu groups 'did not kill missionary'
06 Aug 99  |  South Asia
India under fire over Christian rights
30 Sep 99  |  South Asia
Fire mob kills missionary
23 Jan 99  |  South Asia
Country Profile: India
08 Jul 03  |  Country profiles


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