The State of India vs. Richard de Witt (82nd hearing)

Released by Vic Groves on Wednesday, 9th November 2016

The 82nd hearing of the above case was scheduled for yesterday, Tuesday 8th November 2016 in Srinagar.

These days the most reliable reports we receive are via the Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London, which take a day or two to materialise due to time zone differences and problems on the part of the British High Commission in Delhi being able to contact appropriate court officials.

The latest FCO communiqué, received today, reads:

“Unfortunately, and as we may have expected, the court did not sit (yesterday) as De Wit could not be transported to court because of the prevailing security situation.  The next court hearing has been set for (Wednesday) 23 November.”

This represents yet another setback in reaching a safe and acceptable conclusion to a trial that has been under way since 3rd June 2013 or 41 months.  It is particularly upsetting at this time because reports received from one reliable source working within the court system in Srinagar say that the courts are now open again and cases are being heard.

Efforts are continuing in the background to raise awareness within political and diplomatic circles of the unacceptable situation which shows no sign of change.

To repeat statistics quoted before but even more relevant today:

  • Second judge in post
  • Second Public Prosecutor in post with whom dialogue is impossible
  • No identifiable defence counsel in post – when appointed will be the fourth such appointment
  • No witness processed since September 2015 (14 months)
  • 23 out of 46 witnesses still to be heard
  • Repeated efforts to suggest improvements have been totally ignored
  • The accused may yet be deemed ‘unfit to stand trial’
  • The trial has lost all direction and momentum
  • The current unrest referred to shows no sign of abating but is not as bad as it was and should not prevent a prisoner being brought to court

A further update will be released when relevant information becomes available.