Indian Catholics Welcome Sentences

Catholic leaders welcomed the prison sentences a court has given to five people convicted of taking part in the August 2008 anti-Christian violence in India's Orissa state. "It is a good development. It will go a long way in meting out justice to our people," Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar said on July 28, a day after the court announced its decision. The court sentenced Disara Kanhar, Durbasa Kanhar, Gupteswar Kanhar, Rabindra Kanhar and Naresh Kanhar to six years of "rigorous imprisonment" and also fined each person the equivalent of $105, special prosecutor Bijoy Krishna Pattnaik told reporters. Christians in the riot-torn villages in the Kandhamal district of Orissa continue to live in fear because many of the people who led the violence remain free, Archbishop Cheenath said. Divine Word Father Dominic Emmanuel, spokesman for the Delhi Archdiocese, said the court decision is "of course welcome, but the cases should be considered more seriously." Instigators of violence "should be punished severely so that it would be a lesson to themselves and others who spread sectarian hatred," the priest said.

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