05/18/2013, 00.00
INDIA
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Orissa, two Hindu extremists linked to the murder of missionary Graham Staines arrested

Arrest comes almost 14 years after the massacre of missionary and his two children. Ramjan Mahanta and Ghanshyam Mahanta were part of the group of dozens of Hindu extremists responsible for the massacre. They will be tried by a special tribunal. To date, only two of the authors of the massacre have been sentenced to life imprisonment.

Bhubaneswar (AsiaNews) - The Indian Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) yesterday arrested two other people connected to the brutal murder of Australian Pastor Graham Staines and his children, burned alive January 23, 1999 in the village of Manoharpur in Orissa. The two, Ghanshyam Mahanta and Ramjan Mahanta, were arrested last night in the area of ​​Anandpur in Keonjhar district and conducted to police stations in Bhubaneswar, where they were interrogated by investigators. Bk Pradhan of the special CBI of Calcutta said that soon the two accused will be tried by a special court.

On the night between 22 and 23 January 1999 a mob of Hindu extremists burned alive Pastor Staines and his sons Philip and Timothy (aged 9 and 7), while they were sleeping in their station wagon in Manoharpur village (Keonjhar district, Orissa) . At first the police arrested Hindu extremist party Bajrang Dal member Dara Singh,  the master mind behind the massacre, and 12 other accomplices.

But almost 14 years after the massacre the authorities have not punished the perpetrators. On 22 September 2003, a special court sentenced Dara Singh to death and the other 12 to life imprisonment. However in May 2005, the Orissa High Court overturned the death penalty for Singh to life imprisonment and acquitted 11 others. Only one of the accomplices of Singh, Mahendra Hembram is serving a life sentence. For both the sentence was confirmed in 2011.

In 2006, the missionary's wife and daughter Esther returned to Orissa. The brutal murder of Staines was a prelude of the anti-Christian pogrom in 2008 in the district of Kandhamal.

 

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