Staines murder case: Dara seeks review of SC verdict

Dara Singh, convicted for burning alive Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two minor sons in January 1999, has approached the Supreme Court seeking review of its judgement upholding life imprisonment to him.

The petition, filed through his lawyer Shibu Shankar Mishra, sought review of January 21 verdict in which the apex court upheld the Orissa High Court verdict which had commuted his death sentence to life imprisonment.

Dismissing CBI's plea for death penalty to Singh, a bench of justices P Sathasivam and B S Chauhan endorsed the Orissa High Court's finding that his crime did not fall under the rarest of rare category.

On May 19, 2005, the Orissa High Court had commuted to life imprisonment the death penalty imposed by the sessions court on Singh for the murder of Staines and his sons Philip, 10, and Timothy, 6.

The Staines family was burnt alive in Keonjhar district in Orissa. Staines had worked with leprosy patients in Orissa for 30 years. He was sleeping with his sons on a cold January night when a mob in Manoharpur village poured petrol over his car parked in front of the village church and torched it.

They tried to escape but the mob of about 50 people allegedly prevented them.

Singh had filed an appeal challenging his conviction and the life sentence awarded to him. The appeals were admitted by the apex court in October 2005.

The CBI had sent up for trial a total of 14 accused, including a minor, who was tried separately by a juvenile court for the gruesome killings on January 22-23, 1999.

The rest 13 were tried by an additional session judge at Khurda in Keonjhar district of Orissa, which had awarded death penalty to Singh and life term to others in September 2003. Singh had links with Hindu right-wing outfit Bajrang Dal.

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