Bhubaneswar, Sep 24:
The sub divisional judicial magistrate (SDJM), Bhubaneswar on Tuesday recorded the statements of four witnesses on the second day of the second phase hearing of the murder of Australian missionary Graham Staines and his two minor sons by a mob on January 22, 1999.
The court recorded the statements of the priest of the Manoharpur church Father Paul Murmu, villagers Birendra Purt and Biranchi Maharana and village watchman Shyamsunder Hansda. They were asked about the happenings on that fateful day and about the people who visited Manoharpur that night.
Defense counsel Banabihari Mohanty said that Gladys Staines, wife of Graham Staines, would be summoned for the next hearing that will be held during the last week of October. “As the key witness in the case, Gladys should be called for the hearing,” he said.
On the first day, the court had recorded statements of four witnesses. Gladys, who was summoned to be present during the hearing, was absent as she stays in Australia.
On May 17 this year, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) had arrested Ghanshyam Mahanta (40) from Gayalmunda and Ramajan Mahant (32) from Bhalughera in Keonjhar district, while a third accused Budhia Nayak of Nischintapur in Keonjhar is still at large.
Graham Stewart Staines and his two minor sons Philip and Timothy were burnt to death by a mob on the night of January 22, 1999 while they were sleeping inside their vehicle in Manoharpur village in Keonjhar district.
Fifteen persons, including a juvenile, were arrested for their role in the killing after the case was handed over to the CBI. On September 22, 2003, the Khurda District and Sessions court had sentenced Dara Singh, the main accused, to death and life imprisonment to 12 others while acquitting Aniruddh Dandapat for want of evidence.