The Judicial Magistrate First Class at Panjim, Sarika Phaldesai on Thursday issued a warrant of arrest against former Ribandar Parish Priest Fr. Newton Rodrigues as he failed to appear in the court as directed.
As Fr. Rodrigues failed to turn up on the court despite being given a last opportunity, the warrant has been issued and Superintendent of Police (Crime) has been entrusted the duty of executing it.
It may be recalled that the State has chargesheeted 15 residents of Ribandar including Advocate Aires Rodrigues following a complaint lodged by Fr. Rodrigues with the Old Goa police.
However, by the time the trial commenced, Fr. Rodrigues was relieved of his pastoral duties by the Archdiocese of Goa and has since then taken up an assignment as Pastor of the St. Bernadette Church, Calgary in Canada.
The deposition of Fr. Rodrigues has become important in the case as most of the prosecution witnesses examined till date have failed to nail the accused in the case and some of them have even turned hostile. In fact, the Assistant Public Prosecutor has dropped 26 of the 37 witnesses that were named initially in the charge sheet.
In his defense Adv. Rodrigues has named Archbishop of Goa Filipe Neri Ferrao and Mrs Conceicao Frois, mother of the minor girl who was allegedly molested by Fr. Rodrigues, due to which the case was registered.