Catholic World News

India: one Christian convict granted bail as petition drive for new trial continues

March 23, 2016

One of seven Christians hastily convicted on murder charges after a burst of anti-Christian violence in India's Kandhamal district has been released on bail, after an international petition drive was launched seeking a new trial.

The high court in the state of Odisha granted bail to Gornath Chalanseth, one of the Christians convicted after the 2008 killing of a prominent Hindu-nationalist leader. The court's decision contrasts dramatically with a curt judgment in September 2014 denying bail to all the defendants. 

Chalanseth had filed a fresh request for bail in March, as he and his fellow defendants appeal their conviction. The success of his request suggests that the other defendants-- who have not yet filed new requests for bail-- could also be successful.

Earlier this month, human-rights activists launched a petition drive, asking India's leaders to ensure that the seven convicted Christians receive a new trial. The petition notes that police officials in Kandhamal have given sworn testimony that the evidence against the Christian defendants was fabricated.

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