04/06/2013, 00.00
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Thousands of faithful attend funeral of Bangalore seminary rector, brutally murdered at Easter

by Nirmala Carvalho
The ceremony took place yesterday in Ettumanoor (Kerala), his native village. Thousands of people, including priests and lay people, wanted to bid a final farewell to a man of faith and "true witness" of Christ. Police investigations are continuing, according to which the murderers are "acquaintances" of Fr. Thomas.

Bangalore (AsiaNews) - Thousands of faithful yesterday afternoon attended the funeral of Fr. Thomas, the rector of the seminary in Bangalore (Karnataka) killed on the night between Easter Sunday and Easter Monday. The function took place in the church of St. Joseph in Ettumanoor (Kerala), his native village, and was presided by Mar Mathew Moolakkatt OSB, Syro-Malabar Archbishop of Kottayam, along with many other prelates and priests who took turns at leading the ceremonies in memory of the murdered priest. His body was buried at St. Joseph Knanaya Church Cemetry, in Kottayam district, and since the early hours of yesterday morning thousands of people - bishops, priests, nuns, lay people - have been paying their respects.

During his homily at the funeral, Auxiliary Bishop Mar Joseph Pandarasseril recalled the friendship and the bond that the community had with Fr. KJ Thomas, who was greatly appreciated both in the seminary and throughout the diocese. He cared about the fate of his seminarians and was "a true witness" of the Christian faith. The prelate asked people to "pray for the conversion" of the perpetrators and those who "have committed so cruel an act."

Meanwhile, Bangalore police investigations continue. According to investigators, Fr. K.J. Thomas knew his killers. Before the murder, in fact the victim and aggressors are believed to have exchanged a brief conversation, which ended with the death of the priest. One of them knocked on the door of Fr. K.J. Thomas, causing him to leave the room, while another attacked him from behind. Then they are believed to have cleaned up the traces of blood with the victim's clothes, and taken the documents they needed from the room.

The autopsy results have not yet been made available, but it is known that the priest was hit in the face and head with a blunt instrument - perhaps a brick - and then smothered with the dhoti he was wearing.

The sequence of events suggests that the perpetrators of the murder were not hired killers. "These people - explain the agents - did not steal anything of value from the office, moreover they lost time to clean the blood stains."


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