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    » 10/10/2013, 00.00

    INDIA

    Orissa pogroms: India's justice system is "criminal", Christian leader says

    Nirmala Carvalho

    A court in Phulbani sentenced seven innocent Christians to life in prison, whilst acquitting yesterday five people up on arson charges. In both cases, there was no evidence against the defendants. For Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians, the Orissa pogroms are "sadly unique, for their violence and their total lack of justice."

    Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Yet another sham trial stemming from the 2008 anti-Christian pogroms in Orissa is evidence of a "criminal justice system" in which "local police are silent spectators and the authorities are completely useless", this according to Sajan George, president of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC).

    Yesterday, a court in Phulbani acquitted for lack of evidence five people accused of setting fire to a house during the 2008 violence in Kandhamal (Orissa).

    However, just a week ago, the same court sentenced seven innocent Christians to life in prison for the murder of Hindu leader Laxamananada, whose death sparked anti-Christian violence five years ago. "There was no evidence of guilt against the seven," Sajan George insisted.

    In fact, the Orissa pogroms stand as a unique event in India's history. They are "the largest case of violence against Christians in Indian history and the largest religiously-motivated attack in the state," Sajan George said.

    The numbers speak for themselves. More than 600 villages were looted; 5,600 homes were pillaged and robbed; 54,000 people lost their homes; 56 people were killed (at least 100 according to Church sources); nearly 300 churches were destroyed, as well as numerous convents, schools, hostels and welfare facilities.

    More importantly, in addition to short-term damages, the 2008 violence left a lasting legacy on the justice system.

    "Out of 3,232 complaints," the GCIC president said, "only 828 have been converted into First Information Reports (FIR), which start the actual investigation that leads to a court case."

    Only 327 cases of these have gone to trial, 170 ending in acquittal and 86 convictions, but only for minor offenses. Ninety cases are still pending.

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    See also

    02/11/2010 INDIA
    Orissa: disappointing trial outcome in anti-Christian pogrom cases
    A Kandhamal court convicts 12 people, acquitting another 46 in relation to house burning and murder during the August 2008 violence. Observers criticise botched investigation and lack of cooperation on the part of some witnesses.

    08/08/2012 INDIA
    Orissa court reopens Christian murder case dismissed by police
    Michael Nayak was killed in Baliguda (Kandhamal) on 20 July of last year by a group of Hindu extremists. Police had dismissed the case as an ordinary accident. The president of the Global Council of Indian Christians calls on the authorities to investigate other cold cases involving Christian victims of extremists and the 2008 Orissa pogroms.

    19/12/2012 INDIA
    Orissa: seven innocent Christians still in prison after four years
    Charged in the murder of Laxamananda Saraswati, which set of the 2008 anti-Christian pogroms, the men are innocent. Even though Maoists have always claimed responsibility, police arrested them in the middle of the night on the basis of false evidence. For a Christian leader, their trial is a travesty of justice that threatens the victims and lets the guilty go.

    05/01/2016 INDIA
    Orissa pogroms: Catholics in prayer ahead of final hearing for 7 innocent Christians
    The seven Christians were accused without proof of murdering guru Laxamananda Saraswati. They have been held for seven years, even though Maoist rebels have always claimed the murder. A profile of the seven accused. New episodes of tension in Kandhamal district. In Barkhama, Christians stopped from celebrating Christmas.

    11/06/2015 CHINA
    China’s former ‘national security czar’ Zhou Yongkang sentenced to life imprisonment
    The powerful former head of the country’s security services was convicted on charges of corruption, abuse of power and sale of state secrets. His trial was held behind closed doors because of national security considerations. Zhou is the first member of the Politburo (current or retired) to go to jail. He said he would not appeal, but will likely end up in a five-star prison for Communist leaders who have fallen from grace.



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