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Appeal: Jon's family faces uphill task for funds

September 02, 2009 16:50 IST
'All things are possible when it's God's will. I'm not just fighting for myself, but I'm fighting for all the falsely accused people who found themselves entrapped in this system of legalised witch hunts,' designer Anand Jon said last July after the court allowed him to represent himself.

Los Angeles Superior Court Judge David Wesley had denied his request for a new trial. On Monday, the judge again denied Jon's plea for a new trial based on accusations of juror misconduct and inadequate defence by his lawyers. Instead, Judge Wesley sentenced him to 59 years in prison. Jon wept when the judge pronounced the sentence.

He was also denied bail to appeal the verdict and immediately taken back to prison.

From the beginning, the Indian community in the United States did not show much interest in the case. Not many Indian Americans wanted to be associated with a case involving sexual misconduct.

Yet some Indian Americans believe Jon did not get a fair trial, especially after the allegations of juror misconduct.

The Indian government got involved when Susmita Thomas, India's consul general in San Francisco, met California State Attorney General Edmund G 'Jerry' Brown earlier this year, requesting a fair trial.

As the trial went on, Jon's family had to spend a lot of money to relocate to Los Angeles from New York where they live. It remains a Herculean task for Jon's family to raise more money to hire lawyers and appeal Judge Wesley's sentence.

The judge did not agree to Jon's plea for a new trial. 'You have not convinced me that there is a conspiracy, all right? There's nothing before me right now that substantiates that,' Judge Wesley said.

Sandi Gibbons, a spokesperson for the Los Angeles district attorney, the agency who prosecuted Jon, told Rediff India Abroad that his appeal should be made to the California Court of Appeal.

"His claims were fully litigated and denied by Judge Wesley," Gibbons said, when asked to comment on Jon's charge that he had not received a fair trial.

George Joseph in New York