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CBI moves SC pressing for death for Dara Singh

August 29, 2005 20:15 IST

The Central Bureau of Investigation moved the Supreme Court on Monday challenging the Orissa High court's order to reduce capital punishment to life imprsonment for Dara Singh, who burnt alive Australian missionary Graham Staines, and pressed for his death penalty.

Staines murder:Dara challenges conviction

In a special leave petition filed before the apex court, the CBI described it as a "rarest of the rare case" because the motive was communal; two small children were killed, and the killing was done by roasting them alive; and the accused persons disregarded their pleas to let them out of the vehicle, CBI sources said.

Therefore, the investigating agency pressed for re-imposition of capital punishment on Dara Singh, the sources added.

Graham Stuart Staines, an Australan missionary who ran a leprosy home at Baripada in Mayurbhanj district, and his two minor sons Philip (11) and Timothy (8) were asleep in their station wagon at Manoharpur village in Keonjhar district on the night of January 22, 1999, when a crowd surrounded them and set the vehicle ablaze killing all three.

CBI witness identifies Dara Singh

A sessions court had sentenced Dara to death and 11 others to life imprisonment, but the order was set aside by the Orrisa High Court in May this year which converted the death sentence of Dara into a lifer and acquitted 11 others.

The CBI challenged the judgement based on the legal points contending the High Court did not consider them while giving its order.

According to CBI, photographic identification of the accused persons was legally correct and conforms to the guideline laid down by the apex Court.

Graham Staines murder: Chronology of events

The CBI has also submitted in its petition that the High Court did not consider the confessional statement of 5 accused persons in an appropriate manner. The agency has also stressed the fact that the evidence collected during the investigation clearly pointed to a criminal conspiracy hatched with others to eliminate Staines, the sources said.

The investigating agency also pointed out how the accused had come to the village one month prior to the incident in December 1998 to survey the place and then planned the attack when the victim was holding a jungle camp.

The CBI had relied upon two separate letters written by Mahendra Hembram, who is undergoing life imprisonment alongwith Dara Singh in this case, to drive home the point of conspiracy.

Dara Singh had also filed a petition before the apex court on August 16 against his life imprisonment and contended that his conviction was upheld merely on the basis of presumption of his presence at the site of incident as the mob was giving slogans in his name.

Rediff interview: Gladys Staines

The CBI had filed the chargesheet against 18 persons in the court on June 22, 1999. Four of the accused are still at large. Charges were framed against the accused on September 4, 2000 and the trial came to an end on August 18, 2003.

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