India

Three held for helping India 'rapist' priest

Indian Christian devotees queue to pray at the tomb of Sister Alphonsa in Pala, some 70kms south-east of Kochi on October 11, 2008. Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Nearly one-fifth of Kerala's 34 million population is Christian

A priest and two nuns have been arrested in India for covering up the birth of a baby born to a teenage girl allegedly raped by another priest.

Police in the southern state of Kerala told the BBC that they were questioning the three accused. The priest, accused of rape, was arrested in February.

Initially, the girl's father kept quiet about the crime to save the church and the priest, reports said.

But he revealed the truth during police questioning.

The co-accused allegedly took the baby to an orphanage, and hid the birth. Indian law states that all hospitals and orphanages are required to report all teenage pregnancies to authorities.

Investigation officer Sunil Kumar said the three co-accused could apply for bail in the high court after their statements were recorded.

But, he added that it would be "very difficult" for them to get bail because they have been charged under India's stringent child-protection laws.

Robin Vadakkumchery, the priest accused of rape, has been sent to jail after two weeks of police custody.

The girl told the child welfare authorities that the priest raped her at a church-run educational centre last year.

Her family said they found out about her pregnancy when she was taken to a hospital after complaining of stomach pain.

The family was then convinced by the priest to hide her pregnancy who paid her hospital bills.

This is not the first time a priest has been arrested for rape in Kerala. Another priest was convicted in 2014 for raping a teenage girl.

Nearly one-fifth of the state's 34 million population is Christian.

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