India Supreme Court Grants Bail to Christian Man Who Was Wrongly Convicted of Murdering Hindu Leader Over 10 Years Ago

The Supreme Court in India has granted bail to one of seven Christian men that advocates say was wrongly convicted of murdering a Hindu leader over a decade ago in Kandhamal.

Gornath Chalenseth was bailed out on May 9 from Phulbani jail in Odisha state on May 9, according to the Asian-Catholic news agency ucanews.com.

Chalenseth, along with Bhaskar Sunamajhi, Bijay Kumar Sanseth, Budhadeb Nayak, Durjo Sunamajhi, Munda Badamajhi and Sanathan Badamajhi, was jailed after being accused of murdering Hindu monk Swami Laxmanananda Saraswati and four of his associates on August 23, 2008.

In the aftermath of the Hindu leader’s death, anti-Christian violence in Kandhamal reportedly resulted in the death of dozens of Christians and the destruction of villages. According to ADF India, which represents the convicted men, over 8,400 houses were burned and 360 churches destroyed as a result of the violence in 2008.

According to advocates, the Christian men were convicted on the basis of a fabricated claim without credible evidence. The accused were convicted and sentenced to life in prison in 2013.

The legal appeals for the convicted men have been pending for the past five years while thousands across the globe have called for the men’s release.

Although the Indian legal system allows for bail to be granted while convicts await their appeal, bail was denied twice in state court.

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith