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Court Acquiesces To Church Plea On Nun Identifying Rapists

12/2/08 BHUBANESWAR, India (UCAN) — The High Court of Orissa state on Dec. 2 agreed with a Church petition that a raped Catholic nun be allowed to identify her alleged attackers without returning to the state.

The nun had approached the High Court after a lower court insisted she identify in that court those arrested in connection with her rape on Aug. 25.

The lower court is in Balliguda in the eastern Indian state’s Kandhamal district, where anti-Christian violence persisted for seven weeks starting on Aug. 24. The anti-Christian violence claimed at least 60 lives, mostly Christians, and displaced some 50,000 others.

The 28-year-old nun’s lawyer, June Chaudhari, pleaded before the High Court that the nun cannot visit Kandhamal, where she was raped, because the district is “volatile” and anti-Christian groups there are still hostile to her. Chaudhari, a lawyer from the Supreme Court in New Delhi, said her client feared she would be attacked if she went to Balliguda to identify her rapists.

Archbishop Raphael Cheenath of Cuttack-Bhubaneswar welcomed the High Court ruling as good news. He told UCA News that Church people are now “hopeful” the raped nun will get justice.

The nun is to identify her attackers when police parade the arrested suspects before her. The High Court has not set the date and venue for the identification.

The nun’s case hit national headlines after she addressed a press conference in New Delhi on Oct. 25 and said she has no faith in the Orissa police investigation. She told reporters that the police were friendly with her attackers and tried their best to dissuade her from registering a complaint.