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Two Indian priests charged with rector's murder

Pair among five suspects in seminary slaying

Two Indian priests charged with rector's murder

Father K.J. Thomas reporter, Kochi

June 18, 2014

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Police charged five people, including two Catholic priests, on Tuesday for the murder of a seminary rector in Karnataka more than a year ago.

Father K J Thomas, 63, was bludgeoned to death at St Peter's pontifical seminary in Bangalore on the night of March 31 and April 1 last year.

The two priests were identified as Fr Elias Daniel and Fr William Patrick. The three other accused were only identified by their first names, Peter, Francis and Swami.

Police arrested the priests and Peter in March after a year-long investigation, while the other two have avoided capture.

Pranab Mohanty, Karnataka state's Additional Director of Crimes, said that a hunt for the remaining two is underway.

Police filed the charges because under Indian law they must be filed within 90 days of a suspect’s arrest, Mohanty said.

We have "the full story" behind the murder but the investigation is not closed, he told, adding that "more evidence is needed" and the "investigation is continuing."

He said the reasons behind the killing were complicated, but alleged that the two accused priests thought the murdered rector was preventing them from progressing within the Church.

A dispute over the seminary’s assets also brought things to a head, he said.

"It is not something that developed in a day or two. The enmity started at least four years ago," said Mohanty.

"Then he was given a second term as rector, adding to the hate and anger," he said.

Bangalore archdiocese officials have yet to comment on the charges.

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