Two Acquitted in Staines Killing

Published: 26th February 2014 10:54 PM  |   Last Updated: 26th February 2014 10:54 PM   |  A+A-


Two persons accused in the triple murder of Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines and his two sons in Odisha's Keonjhar district in 1999, were today acquitted by a District Sessions court here.

The two, Ranjan Mohanta and Ghanashyam Mohanta, were acquitted for lack of evidence in the burning to death of the missionary and his two sons on January 22, 1999 when they were sleeping in a station wagon at Manoharpur village in the district.

Judge B C Rath set the accused free after CBI could not substantiate evidence against them, defence lawyer Bana Bihari Mohanty told reporters.

They were arrested from their villages in Keonjhar district on May 13, 2013 by the CBI who had been chasing them for 14 years. Another accused Budhia Naik is still at large.

"During the second phase of trial, the CBI produced eight witnesses including Staines' wife Gladys and his driver Nimai Hansda for examination. But none of them confirmed the presence of Ranjan and Ghanshyam at the time of occurrence," Mohanty said.

CBI had filed charge sheets against 18 persons including prime accused Dara Singh alias Rabindra Kumar Pal.

Earlier, the district and sessions court in Khurda had awarded death penalty to Dara and lifer to 12 others.

Later, the Orissa High Court reduced the death sentence of Dara to life imprisonment and upheld the lifer for Mahendram on May 19, 2005.

Eleven other convicts were acquitted by the High Court.


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