Indian Catholic News

Rector-murder case: 86-year old priest gets bail

Rector Father K. J. Thomas was found murdered at St. Peter’s Pontifical Seminary on April 1, 2013.

File photo: Father K. J. Thomas

The Karnataka High Court on Wednesday granted anticipatory bail to an 86-year-old Catholic priest, who is among the 12 people the police accused of conspiring and murdering Father K J Thomas, the then rector of St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary almost three years ago.

The single judge bench of Justice A. V. Chandrashekar, that granted anticipatory bail to Father I Anthappa, said the decision considers the age and health of the applicant, and asked him to cooperate with police investigation.

The court also directed the priest to surrender before the police within 20 days and furnish a bail bond of 200,000 rupees.

The same court also rejected the bail application of Ms Rita Rini, editor of a Kannada journal. She, Father Anthappa and three other priests and two lay men make up the seven people police named in the second charge sheet filed last November.

Almost a year after the murder, police arrested three people—two priests and a layperson—as prime accused in the March 31, 2013 murder that shook the Church in India. Two people accused in the first charge sheet are still absconding.

Besides Father Anthappa and Rini, the seven accused include Fathers A Thomas, Chowrappa Selvaraj, Anbu John and lay people Raphael Raj and Anthony Prasad.

Reports say police had obtained non-bailable warrants to arrest all the seven but did not execute it because of the pending bail applications. The court decision on bail application removes a hurdle in police proceeding with arrests.

Three people—Fathers Elias Daniel, William Patrick and a lay person Carmel Peter—are already in jail as the prime suspects in the murder case of the 62-year old rector. The priest's brutally attacked body was found outside his room in the St. Peter's Pontifical Seminary on April 1, 2013.

Media reports quoting police sources say the murder is linked to a simmering language-based ethnic rivalry in the archdiocese, in which local Kannada-speaking Catholics fight for their supremacy in the affairs of the Church.

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