Kerala Bishops Sack Priest Charged with Trafficking

COCHIN, India (CNS) — The Catholic Bishops’ Council of Kerala dismissed the secretary of its youth commission, who has been charged as part of a human trafficking ring.

Father Stephen Alathara, spokesman for the council, also said on 17 November it would conduct an investigation into the priest’s activities, reported the Press Trust of India.

In November, police included Syro-Malabar Father Jaison Kollannur as part of a five-person ring that allegedly tried to traffic 42 young Indians to Houston under the pretext of attending a student exchange program.

The Asian church news agency U.C.A. News said the five, including Father Kollannur, faked certificates to say the Indians were experts in education.

“It’s most unfortunate that the priest misused his official position,” Father Alathara said.

Kerala Home Minister Thiruvanchiyur Radhakrishnan said he had directed the director general of police to make a detailed probe into trafficking networks in Kerala.

“We will be taking action against those found guilty,” he said. “I warn people not to fall into the trap set by these networks.”

A police official said the case was flagged when the U.S. consulate in Chennai told police that seven people taking part in visa interviews did not have the required educational qualifications.

U.C.A. News reported that police said Father Kollannur confessed to his involvement in human trafficking as a means of raising cash for foreign trips, adding that he received about $1,000 for sending each person to the United States.

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