Police probe Catholic priest death | india | Hindustan Times
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Police probe Catholic priest death

india Updated: Jul 31, 2009 15:02 IST

Police said on Friday they were probing the death of a Catholic priest whose naked body was found by the roadside in Karnataka, the scene of anti-Christian attacks last year.

The body of James Mukalel, 39, was found early on Thursday on the road leading to his parish in the diocese of Belthangady south of Bangalore.

According to senior police official Gopal Hosur, an autopsy found no external injuries on the priest.

"The body has been preserved for further examination. The investigation will take some more time," he told AFP.

"There have been no detentions so far in the case."

Officials from Mukalel's diocese said he was last seen alive as he left for a funeral service in a village neighbouring his parish.

"We do not know what happened but all we can say is that the death was unexpected. We are waiting for the police to conclude their investigation," said Joseph Valiaparambil, the vicar general of the Belthangady diocese.

But another diocesan official, Tomy Mattom, was quoted by the Vatican-based news agency Asianews as saying his death looked like an "execution".

Mattom said initial information led him to believe the priest had been strangled.

Christians account for 2.3 percent of India's billion-plus Hindu majority population and the community has been the target of sporadic campaigns of violence.

In a wave of attacks last year, 20 churches and chapels were vandalised and destroyed in Karnataka.