An Additional Sessions court in Goa has ordered charges be framed against Congress MLA from Panjim Atanasio Monseratte in connection with the rape of a minor in 2016. Judge Sherin G Paul found merit in the chargesheet and has now allowed the charges to be framed on June 12.
Monseratte was booked and chargesheeted in 2018 under IPC sections 376, 342 and 506 and sections under POCSO Act as the girl was a minor in 2016. In her complaint, the victim had alleged that Monseratte had drugged her before raping her.
Another accused in the case, Rosy Ferrao, was also named in the chargesheet for allegedly luring the victim.
In the run-up to the recently concluded assembly bye-elections, the case had also become a campaign point after BJP pointed the Congress candidate hadn’t declared the case as demanded by the rules of Election Commission. The controversy deepened further after the minor went missing for ten days, only to be found later at a friend’s place.
On Monday, soon after the court found the charges valid to be framed, a visibly upset Monserrate walked out. “I am not going to challenge this order for the simple reason because we have challenged that order before framing of charges regarding police station (attack). Now thing is hanging in the HC for three-four years. I believe that by now that matter would have got over. Only there I was one accused and there were some 100 other accused so all the people have got a say only I had not. So because of that it was hanging for four years,” he said adding, he expected the order. “Looking at other circumstances. I cannot name you the circumstances you should understand. It was on expected lines.”
Public Prosecutor Roy D Souza, who has been arguing for close to six months, said, “Today the case was kept for orders. We had previously argued on whether the charge is to be framed or no and under what sections it is to be kept and what sections are to be dropped. Now as per the chargesheet whatever sections were included, the judge has ordered for charge to be framed on all those sections and charge is going to be framed on June 12. Main sections are rape, wrongful restraint and under the POCSO Act. The second accused is going to be charged with abetment of these offences.”
Monserrate also said he was ready to face the trial. “We are going to face trial here. We will go to the HC to tell them to expedite the matter. I want to tell them basically to finish it. Even it if goes on daily basis I want to finish it. I am innocent from day one, I have been telling,” he said. So we will be working on that because I want that this case get over as early as possible. There is a clear this thing from the SC. There was a judgement that as far as the politicians are concerned where serious charges are been framed that trial should be done within six months.”
Earlier on the weekend, Monseratte has been booked for molestation after a woman complained of verbal confrontation at a local rally against casinos.