Three priests of the Catholic church in Karnataka are among five named as the main accused in the murder of top priest K J Thomas last year.
The chargesheet was filed by the Bangalore police here on Tuesday in the murder that took place at the Vatican-linked St Peter’s Pontifical Seminary in Bangalore. The 530-page preliminary chargesheet names 127 witnesses and five main accused.
Two of the priests Elias Daniel and William Patrick were arrested with a trainee priest Peter in March this year by the police after a year-long probe. A third priest, identified as Francis, and a fifth person identified as Swami, both absconding, have been named as the main accused in the chargesheet filed before the 24th Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate H Shashidhar Shetty’s court on Tuesday.
The police said an internal rivalry over control of the assets of seminary was the motive behind the killing of Father K J Thomas, the rector of the seminary. The plan to kill Fr Thomas also allegedly stemmed from a bitter rivalry on linguistic lines within the church.
The rector of the seminary — one of the few in India linked directly to the Vatican – involved in the training of Catholic priests was found murdered in a tea room at the seminary on the morning of April 1, 2013 by the principal of the seminary Fr Patrick Xavier.
A key evidence against the accused is the cell phone tower information that bears out their alleged presence near the seminary on the night of the murder despite being stationed in different parts of Karnataka.
Since the arrests, a section of the Kannada speaking priests working under the banner of the Karnataka Kannada Priests Association have been demanding a CBI probe accusing the police and Home Minister K J George of targeting Kannada speaking priests in the probe.
The police stated that investigations were on to find more people suspected to be involved in the case.