Monday, 23 November 2009

Indian Merchant Naval Officer’s killer gets eighteen years

“Incomprehensible and evil attack,” says British judge.

Kunal Mohanty (pic courtesy Crown Office)

London, Nov 14 Christopher Miller has been jailed for at least eighteen years for his unprovoked racial killing of Indian merchant naval officer Kunal Mohanty in Glasgow in March this year. Mohanty had chosen Glasgow to appear for his Masters exams. His wife was expecting their first child at the time of the murder.

Judge John Beckett found the attack "as incomprehensible as it was evil" at the sentencing. Miller, a 25 year old unemployed man, had slashed Mohanty’s neck with a knife in Central Glasgow as the Indian officer and friends were walking down the street. Miller had approached Mohanty and asked for a cigarette. When Mohanty replied that he did not smoke, Miller pulled out a lock knife without warning and slashed his neck. A doctor who tried to save Mohanty testified that the 18cm wound, which severed the carotid artery and jugular vein, was one of the worst injuries he had seen in 29 years of practice.

While Mohanty lay bleeding, Miller was caught on CCTV cameras whooping and celebrating the attack in a nearby car park with a friend. He later burned his clothes to destroy evidence.

Miller’s brother Jamie testified that the killer had told him later that he had “done a Paki”. Miller had claimed all through the trial that the attack was not racist but a botched drunken mugging attempt that had gone “horribly wrong.” His lawyer had claimed that the fact that Mohanty was an Asian was “irrelevant” to the tragic death. The jury did not buy this, convicting Miller unanimously of murder. Neither did the judge, who told Miller in the courtroom that his behaviour after the murder suggested that he was anything but sorry at the time. "You went on to commit further crimes and appeared to celebrate them,” he said, referring to Miller’s behaviour later at an Asian takeaway, where he behaved aggressively with staff, threatening them, shouting racial abuse and spraying them with ketchup. “There can be no justification for slashing the neck of a man who had done you no harm whatsoever. Everyone in this country should feel shame for what you did.”

Kunal’s brother Kanishk is justifiably angry. “This is supposed to be a developed country. I fail to understand what kind of developed country it is where citizens of that country can do something like this to someone simply because they are different,” he said. Meanwhile, back home in Jalandhar, Kunal’s father Devendar Mohanty expressed some satisfaction that the killer had been convicted. He told the media, "Yes, I know my son will not come back, but I am happy that something has been done". Kunal’s mother Suman is less forgiving. “This sort of criminal should be hanged,” she said. “I wish there was the death penalty in England.”

Postscript: In connected developments, British authorities have expressed concern over the activities of racist and neo Nazi organisations in recent days after the far right British National party achieved its best result so far in a Scottish election; at least some British newspapers, including the Guardian, fear that the Miller verdict will only increase tensions in Glasgow. The BNP has been accused of orchestrating racist confrontations in the past.


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