Kerala Police on Tuesday arrested a Catholic priest on charges of raping a minor girl. The accused, Father Edwin Figarez, 41, has been absconding since April this year after the victim’s family complained to the police.
Earlier, the Kerala high court had rejected the anticipatory bail plea of Fr Figarez, a member of Kottapuram Catholic diocese in Kerala. As the priest went into hiding, police had arrested his two relatives on charges of facilitating the escape of the accused.
The police said the minor girl, a member of the Catholic community in the parish where the priest worked, had been exploited several times since January. The last incident was on March 28. The girl revealed the trauma to her family in early April, after which her mother complained to the police.
Police sources said Figarez had been active in the field of Christian devotional songs and has several compositions to his credit. He allegedly lured the girl exploiting her interest in music. Following the rape case, the diocese had prevented him from the service.
Police had found that following the rape case, the priest fled to Gulf. He had moved the bail application in the high court while staying in the UAE. Even after returning to the country by early May, the priest remained elusive.
Later, the police had arrested his two relatives Silvesto Figarez and Ben Gari Figarez on charges of helping the accused to go into hiding. The police have also seized the vehicle used to help the priest to move to Bangalore, from where he fled to the UAE.