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Last Updated: Monday, 18 August, 2003, 14:38 GMT 15:38 UK
India missionary death trial ends
Jeep in which Graham Staines and his two sons were burnt alive
The Staines were burnt alive
The trial of 14 men accused of burning an Australian missionary and his two sons to death in a remote village in India has ended.

The group is alleged to have murdered Graham Stewart Staines and his sons, Philip, 10, and Timothy, who was eight, in January, 1999, in the Indian state of Orissa.

All the defendants have pleaded innocent and face the death penalty if convicted.

The judge, Mahendranath Patnaik, said he will announce on Wednesday a date when he will deliver the verdict.

Jeep torched

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

The killings were condemned in India and around the world, but were followed by other attacks on India's Christian minority.

All of them were innocent and should be set free
Bramhananda Panda,
defence lawyer
Right-wing Hindus who complained that co-religionists were being pressured to convert to Christianity were blamed at the time of the attack on the Staines.

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

All the defendants were involved in the crime
Prosecutor Sudhakar Rao
In his final statement on Monday, 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.

One of the accused men, 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.


SEE ALSO:
Indian confesses in missionary killing
02 Feb 02  |  South Asia
Fire mob kills missionary
23 Jan 99  |  South Asia
Hindu groups 'did not kill missionary'
06 Aug 99  |  South Asia
India under fire over Christian rights
30 Sep 99  |  South Asia
Nun 'humiliated' after abduction
24 Sep 99  |  South Asia
Strike over priest killing
06 Sep 99  |  South Asia


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