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Dara Singh, 12 others acquitted in murder case

Dara Singh and 12 others were today acquitted in a case relating to the burning of a truck and murder of its helper.

india Updated: Oct 30, 2006 18:21 IST

Dara Singh, serving a life sentence for the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two sons, and 12 others were on Monday acquitted in a case relating to the burning of a truck and murder of its helper due to insufficient evidence.

Baripada District and Sessions Judge Sribatsa Pradhan acquitted Dara alias Rabindra Kumar Pal and 12 others charged with burning a truck and murdering its helper Shaikh Imam at Godabhanga Ghati in Mayurbhanj district.

The prosecution alleged that Dara and his accomplices had detained a buffalo-loaded truck at Godabhanga Ghati on September 15, 1998, and set it ablaze after unloading the animals. They had also assaulted Imam who subsequently died at a hospital in Cuttack.

Public Prosecutor Prasanna Kumar Pani said the acquittal was mainly due to certain lacunae in the investigation. The identification parade of the accused had not been conducted while several of the witnesses turned hostile while deposing before the court, he said.

Out of 13 accused in the case, nine were on bail while Dara and three others were lodged in the circle jail here.

During the pronouncement of the judgement, 12 of the accused, including Dara, were present in the court, while one Madhu Ho, who is out on bail, remained absent.

The trial in the case had commenced on November 8, 2000, here.

Dara is facing trial in two other cases in the same court - the killing of Catholic priest Arul Doss and the murder of Shaikh Rehman, a Muslim trader at Padiabeda.

Dara, convicted in the Staines murder case that rocked the country on January 22, 1999, had been sentenced to death by the district and sessions court, Khurda.

Staines and his two minor sons, Philip and Timothy, were burnt alive when the station wagon in which they were sleeping outside a village church at Manoharpur was set on fire.

Dara appealed to the Orissa High Court against the verdict which set aside the death sentence while confirming the life sentence awarded to him in the case.

Both Dara and the CBI had appealed against the High Court verdict in the Supreme Court.

First Published: Oct 30, 2006 17:40 IST