Disgraced Indian guru convicted of murdering journalist

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In this Oct. 5, 2016 file photo, Indian spiritual guru who calls himself Dr. Saint Gurmeet Singh Ram Rahim Insan, center, greets followers as he arrives for a press conference ahead of the release of his new movie "MSG: The Warrior Lion Heart," in New Delhi, India. (AP)
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In this file photo taken on August 25, 2017, a follower of Indian religious leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh pleads for her safety during clashes between the controversial guru's followers and security forces in Panchkula on August 25, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 12 January 2019
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Disgraced Indian guru convicted of murdering journalist

  • When Singh was convicted in 2017 of raping two of his disciples, his followers went on the rampage leaving nearly 40 people dead

NEW DELHI: An Indian court Friday convicted a disgraced but still-powerful religious sect leader of murdering a journalist after he exposed rampant sexual abuses by the guru.
Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh, who headed the powerful Dera Sacha Sauda sect with millions of followers worldwide, is already serving a 20-year prison sentence for rape.
The court on Friday found 51-year-old Singh and three of his close aides guilty of killing local newspaper journalist Ram Chander Chhatrapati in 2002.
Chhatrapati was shot outside his house after his local newspaper published an anonymous letter describing rampant sexual abuse by Singh at his sprawling and luxurious sect headquarters.
Public prosecutor H.P.S. Verma said sentencing would be pronounced on Thursday. The maximum sentence is the death penalty.
When Singh was convicted in 2017 of raping two of his disciples, his followers went on the rampage leaving nearly 40 people dead.
To avoid a repeat, Friday’s court proceedings were conducted via video link from his jail cell in the northern state of Haryana.
Riot police patrolled outside the special court in the city of Panchkula.
Since 2015, Singh has also been on trial for castrating 400 of his followers, who alleged that they were promised spiritual gains.
His Dera defended the sterilsation claiming it was done to “safeguard female followers from possible sexual advances.”
Singh is also accused in the murder of his former manager after he threatened to expose his wrongdoings.


France’s Nicolas Sarkozy loses bid to avoid influence peddling trial

Updated 56 min 12 sec ago
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France’s Nicolas Sarkozy loses bid to avoid influence peddling trial

  • Sarkozy is accused of offering to help a judge win promotion
  • Sarkozy’s lawyers have previously argued that magistrates investigating the alleged secret Libyan funding exceeded their powers

PARIS: Former French President Nicolas Sarkozy will stand trial for influence peddling after the country's highest court rejected his final bid to have the case thrown out, his lawyer said on Wednesday.
Sarkozy is accused of offering to help a judge win promotion in return for leaked information about a separate inquiry. He has consistently denied any wrongdoing.
The case came about after investigators used phone-taps to examine allegations that late Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi funded Sarkozy’s successful campaign for the presidency in 2007.
As they eavesdropped on his calls, the investigators began to suspect the former president had offered the judge promotion in return for information on another investigation involving allegations Sarkozy accepted illicit payments from L'Oreal heiress Liliane Bettencourt for the same campaign.
Sarkozy’s lawyers have previously argued that magistrates investigating the alleged secret Libyan funding exceeded their powers and went on a “fishing expedition” by tapping his conversations between September 2013 and March 2014, breaching lawyer-client privilege.
He was cleared over the Bettencourt allegations.
On Wednesday, his defence team said the use in this case of wiretapped remarks gleaned in relation to a different investigation contravened a ruling by the European Court of Human Rights.
"These legal issues are still relevant," Sarkozy lawyer Jacqueline Laffont said. "It will be for the court to decide whether a French court can override a decision of the European Court of Human Rights."
Wednesday's ruling that the trial proceed came from the 'Cour de Cassation', which decides whether an earlier decision by an appeals court conforms with French law.