Two Britons acquitted in child abuse case

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Mumbai, July 24 : The Bombay High Court has acquitted two Britons who were earlier sentenced to six years in prison by a lower court for sexually abusing young boys at a shelter for street children.

The court on Wednesday acquitted Duncan Grant, a charity worker and his associate Allan John Waters along with an Indian national William D'Souza.

"The High Court has acquitted all three accused persons. It has held that the evidence of the prosecution in respect to the two victim boys, they have disbelieved their versions and all of them have been acquitted. The prosecution has made an application to stay the operative part of the judgment to enable them to file an appeal in the Supreme Court," said Tariq Sayyed, defence counsel.

A lower court in 2006 found them guilty of indulging in "unnatural offences" and "using the custody of a minor for immoral purposes."

The charges against the two also included having homosexual intercourse. illiam D'Souza, an Indian national who was manager of the shelter, was sentenced to three years for helping the men.

Maharukh Edenwala, a social activist who filed the case said she was shocked by the court verdict.

"I am absolutely shocked by this judgment. Because this was one of the matters of child sexual abuse where there is lots of evidence according to me against the accused. The boys have stood in court and spoke about their sexual abuse that was perpetrated on them. The court has recorded this evidence. These witnesses were even cross-examined. They stood to their story even in cross-examination,," said Edenwala.

Grant established the Anchorage shelter for homeless boys in south Mumbai eleven years ago with money raised in Britain, where the alleged crimes took place.

Indian police wanted London-based Grant since 2002 after young boys staying at the shelter complained of sexual abuse.

Grant was extradited from Tanzania to Britain in October 2004 following an Interpol red alert and was arrested at Mumbai airport after he arrived from London last June.

Waters has been in police custody since 2004 when he was extradited from the United States.

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