Baripada, Sep 22: Mayurbhanj District and Sessions Judge Sachidananda Sahoo today convicted Dara Singh alias Ravindra Pal Singh and his three aides in the Arul Doss murder case and sentenced them to life imprisonment.
Dara Singh had been lodged in the high security Baripada circle jail here for murdering Australian missionary Graham Stewart Staines and his two minor children- Philip (10) and Timothy (8), who were burnt alive along with their father at Monoharpur village in Keonjhar district on the midnight of January 22, 1999.
17 other accused, allegedly involved in the murder case were acquitted as there was no evidence against them. Of the four convicted to life imprisonment, Dara Singh and his close aide Chema Ho are already in the Baripada Circle Jail, while two others, Rajkishore Mohanto and Jadunath Mohanto, were on bail.
The duo was present in the courtroom during the pronouncement of the judgement and walked into the jail van to reach the Baripada circle jail to serve the life term.
Dara Singh's counsels- Pravas Das and Asit Otta- later told newspersons that they would prefer an appeal before the Orissa High Court against the judgment pronounced by the District and Sessions Judge.
According to the prosecution, Dara Singh and his 20 other associates raided the Catholic Church at Jambani under Mahuldiha police station limits of Mayurbhanj district on the night of September 1, 1999 when the villagers were celebrating ''Nuakhai''.
An arrow was shot at Arul Doss, the Pastor of the Catholic Church, who succumbed to the injuries. Altogether, 23 prosecution witnesses had deposed and were cross-examined during the nearly three-year long sessions trial.