Relaymedia

Graham's killers appeal verdict

Defence lawyer Bana Mohanty said the seven men had filed appeals at the state's High Court.
( [email protected] ) Nov 26, 2003 09:48 AM EST

Bhubaneswar, Orissa, India., Nov. 26 - Seven people convicted of killing an Australian missionary and his two young sons in a remote eastern Indian village nearly four years ago have appealed the verdict, their lawyer said.



Graham Stewart Staines and his sons Philip, 10, and Timothy, 8, died in January 1999 when a mob torched the vehicle where they slept outside a church in Manoharpur, a tribal village in India's eastern Orissa state.



Manoharpur is 235 kilometres north of Bhubaneshwar, the state capital.



On September 22, a district court in Bhubaneshwar sentenced 12 people to life in prison after a 2 1/2-year trial.



The court also sentenced to death Dara Singh, the main defendant in the case, who along with another defendent have appealed.



The murder of Staines and his sons was one of the worst hate crimes against Christians in recent years in India, where more than 80 per cent of the 1 billion-plus population are Hindus. Christians make up about 2 per cent.



The killing was one of a series of attacks against missionaries and Christian institutions, and was attributed at the time to right-wing Hindus, who have claimed impoverished Hindus were being tricked into converting.



Defence lawyer Bana Mohanty said the seven men had filed appeals at the state's High Court in Bhubaneshwar challenging the lower court's verdict.



Four other men convicted in the killing would also be appealing, Mohanty said.