Graham Staines murder case: After 14 years, 2 more accused arrested

Bhubaneswar: CBI’s hunt to nab the absconding accused in connection with the brutal killing of Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines and his two minor sons in 1999 is not yet over. On Friday, the law finally caught up with two alleged fugitives who were on the run for nearly 14 years. The CBI sleuths on Friday arrested Ghanashyam Mohant and Ranjan Mohant from their villages Gayalmunda and Bhalughera in Keonjhar district and they were subsequently produced before a special CBI court in Bhubaneswar. Both were sent to 4-day CBI remand after their bail plea was rejected.
 
Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines and his two sons were burnt to death while they were sleeping inside their vehicle in Manoharpur village of Keonjhar district on January 22, 1999. The CBI had filed chargesheet against 18 persons of whom 15 were tried and three were absconding till date. Of the three, two were nabbed on Friday and one Budhia Nayak is still on the run.
 
Already Dara Singh alias Rabindra Kumar Pal and Mahendra Hembram have been sentenced to life imprisonment in connection with the killings.  Dara Singh was initially sentenced to death by the Khurda District and Sessions court on September 22, 2003, but the Orissa High Court on May 19, 2005 commuted the death penalty awarded to Dara to life imprisonment after Dara appealed against the district court verdict. Mahendra Hembram was also sentenced to life imprisonment by the High Court. But eleven others sentenced to life imprisonment by the District and Sessions court were acquitted by the High Court.
 
The Orissa High Court in its verdict said, "There is absolutely no evidence on record that due to individual act of the appellant Dara Singh alone, the three deceased persons or any of them died. No particular fatal injury to any of the deceased has been attributed to Dara Singh. Therefore, for the murder of the deceased persons, the appellant Dara Singh cannot be held individually liable….In that view of the matter, the conviction of appellant Dara Singhunder Section 302 IPC and sentence of death thereunder cannot be sustained and must be set aside". The CBI moved the Supreme Court against the High Court order.  The Apex Court upheld the High Court verdict.