Narco-analysis test sought for Catholic priest

Kerala police say suspects made contradictory statements following girl’s death reporter, Kochi, India

January 7, 2011

Police investigating the death of a young girl in Kerala have sought court permission to conduct a narco-analysis test on a Catholic priest. Vinson M. Paul, additional director general of police crime investigations, told today that the test was necessary after police found contradictions in the priest’s statements during preliminary investigations. A narco-analysis test involves the use of drugs to aid an official investigation. Father Mathew Moonnattinmugham is the assistant director of “Accept,” an addiction rehabilitation center in the Syro-Malabar Changanacherry archdiocese. Shreya Benny, 12, was found dead Oct. 17, 2010 in a pond at the center. According to police, the girl was among 50 children who attended a personality development camp the archdiocese organized at the institute. Father Moonnattinmugham, 36, says he is willing to undergo any legally permissible test. “I’m innocent and I’ve nothing to hide,” he told today. The priest said he had fully cooperated with police when they questioned him earlier so that they could catch “the real culprits.” He said he was shocked at local media reports that named him a prime suspect in the girl’s murder. “It’s very painful and sad. I would have no objection the media punishing me if I had committed a crime,” he added. The law does not permit the police to conduct a narco test without the priest’s permission, according to lawyer A. Jayashanker. Whatever statement the priest has made during police interrogation can be challenged, he added. Father Paul Thelakat, spokesperson of the Syro-Malabar Church, says the case is another example of Kerala’s communist government targeting the Church “I believe it is a simple case of drowning because the girl had a history of somnambulism and was treated for it,” the Church official explained. Related report Oriental-rite Catholics commemorate struggle against communists IB12748.1635