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Missioner’s killer should not hang, Church says

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The Staines family
The Staines family
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Church people have opposed a federal agency recommendation that the Supreme Court hand down a death sentence to the man who murdered an Australian missioner. “We don’t advocate death sentence for anybody,” Bishop Sarat Chandra Nayak of Berhampur, Orissa, told ucanews.com today. The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) asked the court to award maximum punishment to Ravindra Pal Singh, convicted of burning to death Graham Stuart Staines and his two young sons in 1999. Staines worked among leprosy patients in Mayurbhanj district of Orissa, an eastern Indian state. Singh, popularly known as Dara Singh, led a Hindu radical mob that torched the vehicle in which the missioner slept with his children after a program in a tribal village. A trial court sentenced Singh to death but the Orissa High Court reduced that to a life term. The CBI plea came after Singh challenged even this sentence in the New Delhi-based Supreme Court. Bishop Nayak says he supports the life term for Singh and opposes setting him free as he is “dangerous” to society. “Justice has to be done to the victims,” he added. Father Charles Irudayam, secretary of the Indian bishops’ Commission for Justice, Peace and Development, says punishing Singh is a “good lesson” for those trying to influence courts with money and political power after committing a crime. John Dayal, secretary of the ecumenical All India Christian Council (AICC) also opposes the death penalty. “We are against the death penalty on moral and ethical grounds,” he stated on Nov. 12. The murder was “the worst possible crime with no mitigating circumstances because of the nature of the planning, the motives and the brutal and ruthless nature of the execution,” Dayal said, but Church groups and Staines’ widow had opposed the death penalty from the beginning. AICC’s Orissa secretary A. Harish termed the case as “an abominable crime” that no society can tolerate. Fanatic radicals accused Staines of using his leprosy home as a cover for proselytizing, but several investigative teams could not find evidence to support the charge. Related report Australian Missioner´s Murder Remembered With Prayers On 10th Anniversary IA11965.1627

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