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CBI to investigate priest's death

Two autopsies reach conflicting conclusions over cause of death

CBI to investigate priest's death
Fr James Mukalel
Francis Rodrigues, Mangalore

October 26, 2011

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The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), India’s top investigating agency, this week began probing the death of a Catholic priest killed two years ago. The naked body of Father James Mukalel was found on a road in the southern state of Karnataka. Father Mukalel, who was 39 at the time of his death, worked as the parish priest of St. Mary’s Church in Kutrupady in Belthangady diocese. His body was discovered a day after he had attended a funeral and had reported paid visits to ailing parishioners. In July, the Karnataka High Court ordered the CBI probe after the priest’s parents filed a petition expressing their dissatisfaction with two autopsy reports. A hospital in Mangalore, Karnataka, conducted the first autopsy after Belthangady vicar general Monsignor Jose Valiaparambil suspected foul play in the death of the priest. Prince Isaac, lawyer for the priest’s family, said that after the first autopsy the police declared the death the result of cardiac arrest, but doctors later said they could not pinpoint the cause. A second autopsy at a government hospital in Kerala ruled out cardiac arrest and found three wounds on the priest’s body. The vicar general said the diocese welcomed the CBI probe and would cooperate with the team “in every way possible since we want to know the truth.” He added, however, that no presumption could yet be made about whether the priest was murdered or died of natural causes. Related reports: Priest´s naked body found on roadside
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