Bhubaneswar, Jan 25:
Gladys Staines, widow of Graham Staines, the Australian missionary who was burnt alive along with his two minor sons in a van in 1999 by Hindu radicals, on Friday failed to identify the two accused while deposing before the Khordha District Sessions Court here as a witness.
Appearing before the court, Gladys, who is now residing in Australia, said she was not present at Manoharpur village of Mayurbhanj district on the night of January 22, 1999 when miscreants set afire the van in which her husband Graham Staines and two sons Timothy and Philip were sleeping leading to their deaths.
CBI counsel KP Mishra told the court that she could not identify the accused persons as she was not present at the spot during the incident.
The court fixed the next hearing on February 5.
Briefing the media persons outside the court, Gladys said she felt very happy to be in India as she loves its people.
The second phase of the hearing on the triple murder case began after CBI arrested two persons, Ghanashyam Mohanta and Ramjan Mohanta in May 17, 2013.
The duo was arrested after remaining at large for about 14 years.
While Ghanashyam belongs to Gayalmunda village, Ramjan is a resident of Bhalukera village.
Earlier, the CBI had filed charge-sheet against 18 persons of whom 15 were tried and three were absconding. Of the three, two were nabbed on May 17 and one Budhia Nayak is still on the run.
Dara Singh alias Rabindra Kumar Pal and Mahendra Hembram are undergoing life sentence for the killings.
Dara Singh was initially sentenced to death by Khurda District and Sessions court on September 22, 2003.
However, the Odisha High Court on May 19, 2005 commuted Dara’s death penalty to life imprisonment following his appeal against the district court verdict.
While the High Court upheld the life sentence of Mahendra Hembram, it acquitted 11 others who were sentenced to life imprisonment by the District Sessions Court.