An Indian court on Wednesday acquitted two British men who were serving prison time after a lower court found them guilty of sexually abusing boys at a children’s shelter that one of them had set up for street children.
Bombay High Court judges acquitted Duncan Grant, a charity worker, and fellow Briton Allan Waters, citing “lack of evidence provided by the prosecution.”
In 2006, a lower court found the two men guilty of sexually abusing children and sentenced them to six years in prison and fined them £20,000 (US$39,940) each.
An Indian citizen, William D’souza, who managed the shelter and was found guilty of aiding and abetting the crime and sent to prison for three years, was also acquitted.
Grant, 63, had been in police custody since mid-2005 when he arrived from London and formally surrendered before a Mumbai court on the advice of his lawyers.
A 2001 police report charged Grant and Waters with sodomy and sexually abusing boys at the Anchorage home Grant set up for street children in Mumbai in 1995. Indian police issued an international warrant in April 2002, seeking Grant’s arrest.
Grant, who also ran children’s charities in Tanzania, was arrested in Dar es Salaam in 2004 on the international warrant. He returned to London after being released on bail.
Waters, 58, was arrested at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport in 2003 on the basis of an Interpol arrest warrant, and extradited from the US to face charges in India.
“My clients were falsely implicated in the case,” Tariq Sayed, the lawyer for both men said after the acquittal was announced.
Grant and Waters, who were not present in court when the acquittal came, will be released from prison shortly after the required paperwork is completed, Sayed said.
It was not immediately clear if the government prosecutors would appeal the verdict.