PANJIM: Then Crime Branch Police Inspector Braz Menezes who was one of the Investigating officers in the 2004 Ribandar Church case against Adv. Aires Rodrigues and 14 others will depose on June 28th at 10 am before the Panaji Judicial Magistrate First Class Mrs. Sarika Faldessai. With nine prosecution witnesses already examined PI Braz Menezes is the last prosecution witness though the State and listed 37 witnesses in the charge sheet.
The State finds itself in a dilemma with none of the prosecution witnesses so far having deposed against Adv. Aires Rodrigues. Infact with some of the witnesses going hostile the Assistant Public Prosecutor Mrs. Frances Noronha has dropped 27 witnesses and has had to even cross examine her own witness. With one of the Investigating officers PSI Hanshakutti contradicting the statements of the alleged eye witnesses it has been a further blow to the prosecution case. PSI Hanshakutti has also told the Court that he did not even read Fr. Newton Rodrigues’s complaint and registered the case against Adv. Aires Rodrigues and others on the instructions of his superiors.
Fr Newton Rodrigues’s application now to withdraw the case has also run into trouble with Adv. Rodrigues strongly opposing it while demanding that the trial be completed. JMFC Sarila Faldessai will on June 30th hear arguments on this application filed by Father Newton Rodrigues.
The Court has already issued a warrant of arrest against Father Newton Rodrigues for not being present in court despite being summoned. It was on Fr. Newton Rodrigues’s complaint that Adv. Aires Rodrigues and 14 other Ribandar residents were charge sheeted for trespassing into the church corridor and disturbing a church committee meeting.
The government has over the last seven years been aggressively pursuing this case against Adv. Aires Rodrigues with the State having even challenged before the Sessions Court and later in the High Court, Adv. Rodrigues’s earlier acquittal in the case.
It may be recalled that Panaji Chief Judicial Magistrate Mr. P.M.Shinde had on 22nd December 2009 directed that proceedings against Adv. Rodrigues in this case be stopped. The government however after unsuccessfully challenging that order before the Sessions Court later moved the High Court for which even a Special Public Prosecutor was appointed. Then Bombay High Court Justice N.A Britto while ruling that the trial proceed conceded to Adv. Rodrigues’s request that the case be expedited.
This is the second charge sheet filed by the police against Adv. Aires Rodrigues in connection with the Ribandar Church incident. While the current trial is on the complaint filed by Fr. Newton Rodrigues the earlier charge sheet was on the complaint by the Superior of Ajuda Convent at Ribandar Sister Celia Fernandes.
Acquitting Adv. Aires Rodrigues on 9th April 2009 in that case the then Panaji Judicial Magistrate First Class Mrs. Sharmila Patil had in her judgment stated that the allegations against Adv. Rodrigues seem to have been manipulated and that he was falsely implicated in the case. Judge Patil had also held that the possibility of the complaint against Adv. Rodrigues having been lodged due to political interference could not be ruled out.
In 2004 Adv. Aires Rodrigues was leading an agitation demanding action against Fr. Newton Rodrigues for having allegedly molested a 13 year old girl from Ribandar. While Adv. Aires Rodrigues and others were charge sheeted for confronting Fr. Newton Rodrigues, the case filed against Fr.Newton Rodrigues by the mother of the 13 year old girl who was allegedly molested by Fr. Newton was closed after then Governor
of Goa Mr. S.C Jamir reportedly intervened to save Fr. Newton Rodrigues from being charge sheeted.


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