Mumbai (AsiaNews) - Condemned to life imprisonment: this is the ruling issued today by a court in Orissa against seven innocent Christians, accused without evidence of the murder of Hindu leader Laxamananda Saraswati, whose death triggered the violent anti-Christian pogroms of 2008. The immediate reaction of Mons. Raphael Cheenath, retired archbishop of Cuttack-Bhubaneshwar: "We will appeal to the High Court against the unfair and unacceptable verdict". "The Maoists", he said to AsiaNews, "have twice claimed responsibility for the murder of the Swami Laxamananda and his four followers".
After dozens of postponements and sham trials, on October 1 the judges of the regular Session Court of Phulbani condemned the seven Christians for the murder of the Hindu leader, deferring the reading of the sentence to today.
To AsiaNews Sajan George, President of the Global Council of Indian Christians (GCIC), defines the sentence "a mockery, the sad demonstration of how the Indian judicial system works". The judges, he adds, "were undeniably abetting with the saffron forces and purposely have delayed hearings and trials on a regular basis. We all agree that the basic principle of a democracy is to give equal protection and justice under the law: in our case, these seven men were not judged according to this principle."