Sarah Groves family under 'enormous strain' over uncertainty of how events in Kashmir will affect her trial.
THE family and friends of Sarah Groves have been left with uncertainty following events in Kashmir.
Miss Groves was killed in the state six years ago, in April 2013, and her trial has been ongoing.
'To date there have been 166 scheduled hearings attempting to hear the evidence of 46 witnesses,' the Sarah Groves family said in a new statement.
'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.'
The Groves family believe at least two of these witnesses could be pivotal in the case which currently sees Richard de Wit on trial. He denies her murder.
Earlier this month, the Indian Government revoked Articles 370 and 35A of the Indian Constitution meaning the Indian Administered State of Jammu and Kashmir lost the special status they had held for 70 years.
Overnight the state became a Union Territory under the Indian Constitution, holding the same status as other parts of India – Kashmir can no longer make its own laws.
'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,' the family said.
The Groves family said questions include whether it will be possible to switch the basis of the trial at this late stage to Indian law, whether it will have to restart, whether it will be abandoned and how the human rights of the defendant will be 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 [Foreign and Commonwealth Office] 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,' said the Groves family.
This is the first time in the trial's six-year history that a next hearing date had not been set, placing enormous strain on Miss Groves' family and friends who anxiously await clarification.
For security reasons, the authorities placed Jammu and Kashmir under a 24-hour curfew with a total shut-down of all communications. Measures are especially severe in the City of Srinagar where Miss Groves' trial is being held.
The Groves family said they will release a further statement when more information is available.