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Hindu fundamentalist leader, convicted of murder, released on bail before appeal

Catholic World News - July 08, 2010

A Hindu militant leader accused of leading anti-Christian mobs in India’s eastern Orissa state has been released on bail, just a week after his conviction of murder charges made national headlines.

Manoj Pradhan, who is believed to be one of the main organizers behind the wave of violence that swept through the Kandhamal district in August 2008, was released on bail July 7, pending his appeal of a court verdict that found him and an accomplice guilty of murder. The pair had been sentenced to 7-year prison terms.

A leading member of the Hindu nationalist BJP party, Pradhan had already been acquitted in six other cases-- including three murders-- before his first conviction. Orissa police have charged Pradhan with seven murders and seven arson attacks on Christians; several cases are still awaiting trial.

More than 90 Christians were killed in the anti-Christian violence that continued unabated in Kandhamal for weeks. More than 5,000 homes and 300 churches were torched, and 54,000 Christians were left homeless by the mob violence.

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