Goa police on Thursday arrested former state Education minister and expelled Congress MLA Atanasio Monserratte for allegedly raping a minor girl after ‘buying’ her from her mother for Rs 50 lakh.
“Monserratte has been placed under arrest. We will be soon moving the court to seek his remand as we need his custodial interrogation,” Superintendent of Police (Crime Branch) Karthik Kashyap told PTI.
The girl’s mother too was arrested on the charge of human trafficking, he said, adding that another woman, wanted in the case, was absconding.
Monserratte appeared before the crime branch officials at 3.10 pm on Thursday, and was placed under arrest at 8.30 pm. He has been booked under IPC section 376 (rape), 328 (poisoning), 342 (wrongful confinement, 370 (A) (trafficking) and the provisions of Goa Children Act and the Protection of Children From Sexual Offences Act.
A senior police official said that police had examined ten witnesses and also recorded the girl’s statement before a magistrate. She admitted to the police that her stepmother and another man ‘sold’ her to the MLA for a sum Rs 50 lakh.
The complaint, filed with Panaji police station and later transferred to the Women Police Station, said the accused hatched a conspiracy and allegedly sold the girl to Monserratte in March this year for sexual exploitation.
Monserratte appeared before the crime branch accompanied by his wife Jeniffer, who is the MLA from Taleigao constituency.
Monserratte claimed it was a political conspiracy. “I have not done anything wrong. The complaint is totally false and bogus. This is just to frame me,” he told the reporters.
According to the MLA, he had hired the girl to work at the Hallmark showroom owned by him after meeting her parents, who are the registered voters from his constituency, but later sacked her for stealing.
Police also searched various places, including an apartment owned by Monserratte.