After the collapse of the state of Kashmir, Sarah Groves family and friends are still waiting to find out what impact that could have on the long running trial of the man accused of her murder.
Richard de Wit, who denies killing Miss Groves, has been on trial since 2013 - when he was arrested soon after her death in April of that year.
He has been remanded in custody ever since, but the trial could barely be described as limping on at times. There have been countless delays, adjournments and cancelled hearings which have now culminated in the current silence from the Indian territory.
The Groves family have now said that the trial, under the State of Jammu & Kashmir -v- Richard de Wit is being heard under Kashmiri Law, "which appears to have no future validity".
"To date there have been 166 scheduled hearings attempting to hear the evidence of 46 witnesses. It is being heard in its second court under its fourth Judge, its sixth Public Prosecutor and its sixth Defence Counsel. There are still more than a dozen witnesses to hear, at least two of which could be pivotal in the case against Richard de Wit."
Pictured: Richard de Wit, who denies murder.
Seventeen days ago, the Indian Government revoked Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution which meant the Indian Administered State of Jammu & Kashmir lost the Special Status it had held for 70 years and became, overnight, a Union Territory under the Indian Constitution. That means Jammu & Kashmir now holds the same status as all other parts of India and can longer fly its own flag or make its own laws.
The impact of that on trials, including the Groves murder trial remains unclear.
For security reasons, the authorities had immediately placed Jammu & Kashmir under a 24-hour curfew with a total shutdown of all communications. In a statement, the Groves family have said; "These punitive measures, especially severe in the City of Srinagar where the trial is being held, remain in force despite their occasional easing at times only to be immediately reversed when signs of trouble flared up."
Pictured: Kate and Vic Groves are facing further heartache as the trial of the man accused of killing their daughter stumbles yet again.
The Groves family have a number of questions they would like answered, but so far no information has been given to them in more than two weeks:
"We are trying to establish whether it will be possible, given the effective abolition of Kashmir’s own legal system, to conclude the trial under Kashmiri law? Will it be possible to switch the basis of the trial at this late stage to Indian law? Will it have to restart? Will it be abandoned? How are the human rights of the defendant affected?
"Unfortunately, we still cannot answer these questions because we have been unable to establish contact with our legal representative or our other contacts within Kashmir. The FCO have similarly been unable to glean meaningful information from the Indian Government in Delhi although the matter has been raised at a very senior level. We remain hopeful that some answers will be forthcoming in the near future.
"This is the first time in the six-year history of the trial that a ‘next hearing’ date has not been set. This places an enormous strain on Sarah’s family and friends who are anxiously awaiting clarification."
Pictured top: Sarah Groves.
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