The Judge presiding over the trial of the man accused of murdering Sarah Groves didn't turn up at court today - for the fourth time in a row.
Judge Tahir Khurshid Raina remained on "extended leave of absence" according to the Groves family legal representative in Srinagar.
Having now missed four consecutive hearings, out of the 148 scheduled hearings - many of which were postponed or cancelled for other reasons - the Judge is expected to return to work next Monday, 11 February.
Vic Groves, Sarah Groves father, said there had been a slight. glimmer of hope during today's no-show by the Judge, as the case was moved to the 3rd Additional Sessions Court under a different Judge but those hopes of progress were then dashed when the Groves family was told the hearing was still unable to proceed for many reasons.
A number of personnel were missing from the court today - including Richard De Wit himself, who denies killing Sarah, and any witnesses.
The Prosecutor and both members of Mr de Wit’s defence team were also absent from court.
Pictured: Richard de Wit and Sarah Groves. He denies killing her.
There have been other issues facing Kashmir this week, which may also have slowed down the trial.
On Tuesday the area experienced a 5.6strong earthquake which caused minor structural damage to the city of Srinagar. Yesterday and overnight Srinagar then experienced heavy snowfall causing extensive local disruption. The city was more or less paralysed, said Mr Groves.
In such circumstances, he said it is impossible to tell whether or not this hearing would have taken place today, but with no progress in the trial since 1 November 2018, the family is growing increasingly concerned.
The next hearing has been booked for 23 February, which Mr Groves said "will be pivotal."
He said; "in the event that no progress is made at that hearing, efforts will have to be stepped up to rattle cages via all legal, diplomatic and political means at our disposal if for no other reason than to prevent the trial from descending into terminal decline.
"We are fast-approaching six years since Sarah’s brutal and as yet unexplained murder. Everybody directly or indirectly associated with this trial should hang their heads in shame."
Pictured top: Sarah Groves, and the man who denies murdering her.
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