`Six charged over Vienna Sikh temple murder`

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 22:25

Vienna: Six men have been charged in
connection with a gun and knife attack at a Sikh temple in
Vienna last year in which a visiting guru was shot dead,
sparking unrest back in India, prosecutors said today.

A 35-year-old Indian man is being charged with murder
and two counts of attempted murder for the May 24 shooting.

Five other men, aged 29 to 46, face charges of
complicity to murder and attempted grievous assault, the
prosecution said.

A trial date has not been set, it added.

Sikh guru Sant Rama Nand, 57, was killed and 16
others were injured during the attack on a gathering at a Sikh
temple in the Austrian capital on May 24, 2009.

Among those injured was another visiting guru from
India, Sant Niranjan Dass, 68, who was hit by two bullets in
the abdomen and the hip.

The main suspect, who was shot in the head during the
clash and spent time in hospital in an induced coma, said he
did not remember anything. According to a psychiatric expert,
these claims were "credible".

The five other suspects meanwhile rejected the
charges against them, their lawyer Alexia Stuefer told AFP.

"Being at the scene of the crime does not make you
guilty," she argued.

Although the five did drive to the temple with the
alleged murderer, "they were not aware of his plans," said
Stuefer.

"If they had known, they would have stopped him.
They simply wanted to see the ceremony," she said, adding that
her clients had been "seriously injured" during the attack.

A religious row between orthodox Sikh groups and
the two gurus` movement -- Shri Guru Ravidas Sabha -- was
believed to be behind the attack, prosecutors said.

The shooting had been planned in advance, probably
by a radical Sikh group in Spain, they added, noting that
several of the suspects had travelled to Vienna from Spain
before the attack.

The Vienna clash ignited unrest in India that
caused at least two deaths and led to heightened security
across the northern state of Punjab.

PTI



First Published: Tuesday, May 18, 2010 - 22:25

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