Amnesty International has said that the life sentence given to Dr Binayak Sen by the Raipur sessions court violates international standards of fair trial and warned that it is likely to "inflame’’ tension in the conflict-affected area.

Describing the trial itself as "politically motivated" and calling for the charges against Dr Sen to be dropped, Sam Zarifi, its Asia-Pacific director, said in a statement: "Dr Sen, who is considered a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International, was convicted under laws that are impermissibly vague and fall well short of international standards for criminal prosecution. Instead of persecuting Dr Sen, authorities in Chhattisgarh should be acting to protect the people of the region from the abuses committed by the Maoists, as well as state security forces and militias."

He said the sentence would "seriously intimidate" other human rights activists working to provide a peaceful outlet for people's grievances, especially the Adivasis.

"Life in prison is an unusually harsh sentence for anyone, much less for an internationally recognized human rights defender who has never been charged with any act of violence. State and federal authorities in India should immediately drop these politically motivated charges against Dr Sen and release him," he said.

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