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Priests charged with murder of rector

KOCHI (UCAN) : Police in southern India have accused four priests of being involved in the murder of the rector of a major seminary, Father K.J. Thomas, whose body was found in his room at St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary on 1 April 2013.

Police filed additional charges on November 27 in a Bangalore court naming seven people, including Father I. Anthappa, Father A. Thomas, Father Anbu John and Father Chowrappa Selvaraj, the police officer coordinating the investigation, Victor D’Souza, said.

Three other people have also been charged with the murder.

“The court will issue non-bailable warrants and they will be arrested soon. But that’s the court’s decision. We do not know when,” D’Souza told the media on December 2.

Two other priests, Father Elias Daniel and Father William Patrick, as well as another man only identified as Pete, were arrested in June last year. A total of 10 people, including six priests, now stand accused.

According to the police investigation, Father Thomas was killed because of ethnic rivalry between the Kannada-speaking minority and Tamil-speaking migrant majority. 

However, police said that the immediate motive for the murder and how the alleged conspirators conceived the crime as beneficial to them is unclear.

D’Souza said there is a fool-proof case against them, but declined to elaborate, saying the case was quite complicated.

Archbishop Bernard Moras, from Bangalore, said that he knows nothing about the progress of the case other than what he has read in the media.

“Of course, they continue to be priests, and celebrate Mass,” Archbishop Moras said.

“I know from the media that they are named as accused. I do not have any other information,” he said.

However, the priests have not been defrocked or suspended, as requested by Father Thomas’ brother, as they remain innocent unless proven guilty.

The victim’s brother, K.J. Mathew, has written to the papal nuncio to India, Archbishop Salvatore Pennacchio, and Beniamino Cardinal Stella, the prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, pleading for them to laicise the clergy accused in the case. 


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