Indians face death for missionary's murder

Thirteen Indian men face the death penalty after being convicted today of the murder of an Australian missionary and his two sons who were burned to death.

Judge Mahendranath Patnaik, sitting in Bhubaneshwar, the capital of Orissa state. said he would sentence the 13 on September 22.

A fourteenth defendant was found not guilty.

Graham Stewart Staines and his sons Philip, 10, and Timothy, eight, died in January 1999 when a mob burned their vehicle while they slept outside a church in Manoharpur, a village 145 miles north of Bhubaneshwar.

Las week Staines’ widow, Gladys, said she had forgiven her husband’s killers.

“The Bible teaches us that we are to forgive others. I realised that if we don’t forgive, we let bitterness come into our own lives,” she said.

The killings were among a series of attacks against missionaries and Christian institutions in 1999.

They were attributed to right-wing Hindus who said poor Hindus were being pressured to convert.

Dara Singh, the main defendant in the case, was treated as a hero by support groups and tribal villagers, who helped hide him for a year before his arrest.

Before his murder, Staines and his wife had spent more than 30 years working with leprosy patients in Orissa’s Baripada district, and Mrs Staines has remained in the state, continuing that work.

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