The Chattisgarh Court in India handed down a life sentence to celebrated pediatrician Dr. Binayak Sen, finding him guilty on charges of treason and sedition for alleged support of Maoist rebels. The sentence has shocked family and supporters of this physician who has spent years devoted to public health and the poorest of India's poor. PHR joins in the call for the higher judiciary to hear his appeal promptly, following what is widely viewed as a trial on flimsy evidence and lack of due process.PHR founder and first Executive Director, Dr. Jonathan Fine, who was in Chattisgarh, writes to us:
This afternoon [December 24] Binayak Sen was found guilty on three counts and with two other defendants was sentenced around 3:30 PM India time to life imprisonment. No bail could be arranged today but as soon as possible will be requested of the high court and an appeal will be filed. Meanwhile Binayak Sen is being held in a Raipur prison. Vasu and her husband and I greeted Binayak, his wife, two daughters, his brother and close friends in the courtyard of the trial court immediately before the trial. Only the family was allowed to attend in the courtroom. The verdict was swiftly delivered and the sentence after a brief delay. I talked at length with Binayak and took many photos of him and his family. I must say, and hope not to be thought self-serving, that he was surprised to see me and gave me a big hug. I could not help crying when speaking with his wife before and after the verdict was declared. This is a black day in the history of human rights and we will fight tirelessly to see that he is freed at the earliest possible moment.
PHR urges all supporters to keep working with us to fight this decision on appeal and help free Dr. Sen.