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Family won't drop Nebbi priest rape case

By Vision Reporter

Added 22nd April 2010 03:00 AM

THE parents of the girl allegedly defiled by an HIV-positive Catholic priest in Nebbi have rejected a Police request to drop the charges, insisting the law must take its course.

THE parents of the girl allegedly defiled by an HIV-positive Catholic priest in Nebbi have rejected a Police request to drop the charges, insisting the law must take its course.

By Frank Mugabi

THE parents of the girl allegedly defiled by an HIV-positive Catholic priest in Nebbi have rejected a Police request to drop the charges, insisting the law must take its course.

Santo Onyai, the father of the 14-year-old girl, said Pakwach Police yesterday called him to make a statement withdrawing the case, but he had declined to do so.

“The Police told me to make an additional statement withdrawing the case but I refused because that can only be made after we have reached a compromise, which we have not,” Onyai said.

The Rev. Fr. Santos Constatino Wapokura was released on Wednesday after a day in Police detention. The priest said the accusations are a ploy to taint his image.

Wapokura, the parish priest of Pakwach, has twice been in and out of Police cells over sexually assaulting the girl, who was serving in the church.

He was first arrested last week but was released shortly after on Police bond under unclear circumstances, which the Police said they were investigating. He was again arrested on Monday, transferred to Nebbi Central Police Station, before being released once more reportedly on the instructions of the resident state attorney, Innocent Obale.

Obale said the complainants wanted to settle the matter out of court. But Onyai said his family want the priest to face the court and instead blamed government officials of dragging their feet.

“We all want the case to proceed in court but the Police and court people are not helping us,” he said. He called for the intervention of higher authorities.

On Tuesday, the Nebbi criminal investigations officer, Henry Mulindwa, told The New Vision that they had preferred charges of aggravated defilement against the priest because he was tested and found to be HIV-positive.

A person convicted of aggravated defilement is liable to a death sentence.
In Kampala, the head of the child and family protection unit, Florence Kilabila, yesterday said the Police did not condone the priest’s release. “I don’t like the claims that the case is going to be settled out of court. There is still room for us to look into it.”

The regional crime chief, she said, had been ordered to ensure justice is done. “The matter will be handled at a higher level,” she added. She said the release of the priest was the decision of the state attorney and should not be blamed on the Police.

The Nebbi case adds to the list of accusations of sexual impropriety across the globe brought against Catholic priests, who swear the oath of celibacy.

Additional reporting by Herbert Ssempogo

Family won't drop Nebbi priest rape case

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