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Seminary suspends four priests amid rector murder probe

Police say they want clergymen kept apart while being investigated

Christopher Joseph, Kochi

August 13, 2013

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A seminary in southern India has suspended four of its priests as police continue their investigations into the killing of its rector, officials confirmed today.

The St Peter's Pontifical Seminary in Bangalore has suspended spiritual director Father G Joseph, former rector Father Sebastian Periyannan, Registrar and Church history professor Father Lourd Prasad and procurator Father Patrick Xavier.

"This is to help the investigation, as far I know," Father A Rayappan, president of St Peter's Institute, told today.

Police investigating the April 1 murder of the rector, Father K J Thomas, asked the seminary on August 3 to remove the four staff members from the seminary building "to help their investigation."

A senior investigator confirmed the request, saying all four were at the seminary on the night of the killing.

"We want them kept separately, as we do not want them talking together," he said.

All four are being monitored, the official said.

The move comes two weeks after police subjected Father Xavier to a narco-analysis test — a form of questioning where the subject is placed into a chemically induced hypnotic state. 

The rector's body was found lying in a pool of blood in a corridor near his room, which was next to Father Xavier's.

Following the narco test, police last week said that they believe Father Xavier knows who the killers are, although they do not think he was directly involved in the actual murder.

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