Friday, December 24, 2010

Dec 24: Binayak Sen Sentenced to Life Imprisonment


India Sentences Doctor to Life for Aiding Rebels By HARI KUMAR

NEW DELHI — In a ruling that outraged human rights advocates, an Indian court on Friday sentenced a doctor to life imprisonment on charges that he committed sedition by aiding Maoist rebels in rural India.

The case of Binayak Sen, 60, had attracted international attention when 12 Nobel laureates wrote to Indian leaders asking that he be released from jail as he awaited trial.

The court in the state of Chhattisgarh convicted him on Friday on two counts of sedition and conspiracy while finding him innocent of a third charge of waging war against the state.

Dr. Sen, a well known figure in Chattisgarh, had provided treatment to poor people in the state since 1981. “This is completely irresponsible,” said his wife, Elina Sen, during an interview on NDTV, a news channel. “There was not a single piece of evidence against him.”

The prosecution accused Dr. Sen of acting as a courier for jailed Maoist rebels and said it had recovered some letters written by militants that were in his possession. Dr. Sen visited jailed rebels on several occasions. He was arrested in 2007 and was not granted bail for two years.

Human rights activists condemned the verdict. “This is completely outrageous and unjustified,” said Rajendra Kumar Sail of the Peoples Union of Civil Liberties, who is also a former colleague of Dr. Sen. “We will definitely go for appeal against the judgment.”

Maoist rebels, who claims to fight for poor people, want to capture political power through armed struggle. They are active in broad swathes of remote regions of rural India and have been described by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh as the biggest threat to India’s internal security. India’s Home Ministry has said that Maoists killed 591 civilians in 2009.

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