10/10/2007, 00.00
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Supreme Court upholds life sentence for killer of two missionaries

Dara Singh, a Hindu extremist who killed Fr Arul Doss and Christian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, had applied for release on bail. His request was rejected on both accounts and so he will purge his entire sentence.

Delhi (AsiaNews) – India’s Supreme Court denied bail to Dara Singh, who is serving a life sentence for murdering Catholic priest, Fr Arul Doss, and Australian missionary Graham Stains and his two young sons. Singh, who was sentenced last September 22 by the Orissa High Court, will thus have to purge his full term in prison.

The judges found Singh guilty in the murder of Fr Arul Doss, priest in a church in Anandpur who was killed on September 1, 1999, during a show organised in a town in Mayurbhanj district. In their decision the judges stressed the particularly brutal nature of the crime. Dara Singh and ten accomplices shot the priest with arrows and then burnt down his church.

Singh, whose real name is Rabindra Kumal Pal, had already been sentenced to death on September 22, 2003, by an Orissa Provincial Court for the murder of a Christian missionary. In their ruling the provincial judges found that on January 23, 1999, he had led an attack in Keonjhar district that caused the death of Australian missionary Graham Staines, who was burnt alive with his two sons, seven and nine, as they slept in their car. The court had also jailed 12 other men who had acted as his accomplices.

On May 19, 2005, the High Court in this eastern Indian state commuted the death sentence to life in prison and released 11 of his co-accused. On October 19, 2005, the Orissa Supreme Court accepted to hear Singh’s request for a reduced sentence. Singh, who is backed by Hindu nationalists, then applied for a pardon in order to “take care of his sick old mother.”

Yesterday’s sentence brings to an end all legal proceedings since there are no higher courts of appeal.

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