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Last Updated: Friday, 26 March, 2004, 12:50 GMT
Anger at Bombay paedophile ruling
By Zubair Ahmed
BBC correspondent in Bombay

Computer search for pornography
Police found material on the Swiss couples' computer
Social activists in Bombay have reacted angrily after a judge ordered the early release of two Swiss paedophiles who paid compensation to their victims.

Wilhelm Albin Marty, 61, and Loshiar Lili Marie Marty, 58, had served half of a seven-year sentence for abusing children in India's commercial capital.

A High Court judge said further custody would serve no purpose.

Activists urged the court to review its decision to allow the 600,000 rupee ($13,400) compensation deal.

The couple have not been released from jail yet.

They were arrested in December 2000 in Bombay, also known as Mumbai, after reports that they were luring children with toys and taking them to their hotel room.

Police found pornographic material in their room and on their computer.

The pair were held in custody from their arrest and were sentenced to seven years in March 2003.

They have also been accused of sexually abusing children in Sri Lanka and Thailand.

Consulting lawyers

The couple had been challenging the conviction but offered to pay 100,000 rupees to each of their six child victims in return for early release.

It's unjustified, it's unexpected and... the reasons given by the court are shocking
Mansoor Qadri, NGO official

Justice AS Aguiar accepted their argument and ordered their release from jail in Pune after the compensation had been paid.

Social activists and non-governmental organisations reacted with anger to the High Court order.

Nigama Mascarenhas, convenor of the Forum Against Child Sexual Exploitation, said: "We learnt from the papers yesterday. It's shocking news.

"Whatever has happened should not have happened. They were caught red-handed and they were punished. Now we find the conviction has been reduced."

The forum is consulting legal experts and will make a decision soon on its course of action.

Mansoor Qadri, a trustee of Saathi, an NGO working with street children, said: "It's unjustified, it's unexpected and... the reasons given by the court are shocking."

Mr Qadri said the High Court could be asked for a review or the matter might be taken to the Supreme Court.

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