Sudarshan Hansda, alias Chenchu, a juvenile who was sentenced to 14 years imprisonment in the Staines murder case in 2000, was acquitted and released from the Probation Hostel at Angul on Tuesday.
Chenchu was 13 when he was arrested in connection with the killings of Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines and his two minor sons in 1999. He was 14 when he was convicted by a juvenile court in Bhubaneswar.
Besides Chenchu, there were 13 other accused, including Dara Singh, who were convicted by the Khurda District and Sessions Court in September 2003. While Singh was awarded death sentence, the other 12 were given life sentences. In May 2005, the Orissa High Court, however, commuted the death penalty awarded to Singh to life imprisonment.
The court also acquitted 11 others who had been sentenced to life imprisonment by the Khurda District and Sessions court. But Chenchu was kept in a juvenile home at Angul.
Bisweswari Mohanty, Chenchu’s lawyer told HT: “First, we appealed in a Bhubaneswar court against the conviction of Chenchu by a juvenile court and the court acquitted him.
Graham Staines and his two sons were burnt to death inside their vehicle in Manoharpur village of Keonjhar district on January 22, 1999.