CBI questions head of Syrian Orthodox Church of Antioch in murder case

Malankara Varghese murder case leads to Church

Mar Ignatius Zakka-I of Antioch with the Catholicose of
Puthencruz Mar Baselios Thomas I
Kochi (Kerala,India), October 21, 2011: The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) unit, Thiruvananthapuram, on Friday 21th October quizzed His Beatitude Baselios Thomas-I, the Catholicos of Puthencruz and the Metropolitan of Angamaly Diocese of the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church of Antioch, in connection with the Malankara Varghese murder case at the CBI office here.The Catholicos of Puthencruz appeared before the CBI at its office in Kochi. According to CBI sources, the Catholicos of Puthencruz was closeted with investigating officials for three hours.

T M Varghese, also known as Malankara Varghese, a member of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church’s managing committee, was hacked to death by a gang outside a car workshop on the MC Road near Perumbavoor on December 5, 2002. The CBI took over the investigation following a High Court directive in 2007.

The CBI made the first breakthrough in the case when in April last year it arrested Joy Varghese alias Cement Joy, who confessed he had hired criminals to murder Malankara Varghese, a member of Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church’s managing committee in December 2002 for a large sum of money.
Malankara Varghese
The murder is believed to be a fallout of the long standing feud between the Malankara Orthodox Syrian Church, headquartered in Kottayam, and the Jacobite Syrian Christian Church of Antioch, which has its headquarters in Ernakulam district. The thirty-six-old feud between the two churches has always been a bother for successive governments in the state and, on several occasions in the past, feuds between the followers of the two churches have ended in brawls.

Joy Varghese later admitted to the role of Fr Varghese Thekkekara, a priest and the manager of the Angamaly Diocese of the rival Jacobite Syrian Christian Church, in the conspiracy in the murder of Malankara Varghese. In May last year, the CBI filed its chargesheet, naming priest Varghese Thekekara, manager of the Angamali diocese of the Syrian Jacobite Church, as the first accused in the murder of Malankara Varghese.

In February this year, Saramma Varghese, widow of the murdered Malankara Varghese, said that without the help of church higher-ups, this would not have happened. She later filed a petition before the Chief Judicial Magistrate (CJM) Court, Ernakulam that the investigation could not be completed without questioning the church higher-ups and the magistrate gave the nod to the CBI to go ahead with their job.

The Indo-Asian News Service (IANS)
Express News Service , The New Indian Express

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