The State of India vs. Richard de Witt (84th hearing)

The 84th scheduled hearing of the above case took place today, Tuesday 13th December 2016 in Srinagar, Kashmir

The Foreign & Commonwealth Office in London have issued the following statement following contact with the British High Commission in Delhi:

Delhi have talked to the Public Prosecutor in Srinagar. He confirmed that today’s hearing did not happen because De Wit did not appear in court. He could not give further details as to why De Wit was not in court, and could not confirm when the next court date is.  He has asked Delhi to call him back later this week to give him time to get more details. Hopefully Delhi will do so tomorrow, [Wednesday 14th December].”

Please note that the words in square brackets have been added for clarity.

It beggars belief that the Public Prosecutor does not know why the person accused of murder fails to appear in court. By all accounts the security situation has improved in recent days and should no longer prevent the transfer of prisoners from the Central Jail to court. Information to this effect was received at the end of last week from a contact who works within the court system itself.

It is unusual for the next hearing date not to be fixed; this is a worrying development. It is unlikely to be before the end of this year.

The case seems to be given a progressively lower and lower profile but unfortunately, all efforts to elevate matters have fallen on deaf ears.  There is some evidence to suggest that the Dutch authorities are taking a greater interest in matters and we are seeking clarification on this.

This is an appeal to everyone receiving this release who works in the UK media to give this case greater publicity. Whereas it receives excellent coverage here in the Channel Islands, it rarely does elsewhere. Sarah was a British citizen who spent 16 of her 24 years in the UK – either at home in Cheshire or at school in Ascot. Our family has and Sarah had many contacts in the North West and in London and the South East.

What is happening here is a disgrace and an appalling reflection on the Indian system of justice. We have received information that the current judge, the second one to preside over the case, is due for retirement in 2017. A third judge will then take over. There is still serious concern about whether Richard de Wit is fit to stand trial. It is also unclear if he has any legal representation in place. As has been stated so many times before, there is a strong possibility, unless something significant happens, that it will never reach a safe and satisfactory conclusion. Hopefully, increased media coverage can prevent that situation from arising.

A further release will be issued when definitive information has been received about today’s hearing and the scheduled next hearing date.

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