Kochi: A Catholic priest, accused of raping a minor girl, has been awarded a double life term by a court here on Thursday.

Fr Edwin Figarez, a 41-year-old priest of Kottappuram Catholic diocese, has been facing charges of sexual abuse of a 9th standard student from the Catholic community in the parish where the priest worked.

Doctor Ajitha, belonging to Puthenvelikkara Primary Health Centre, and the priest’s relative Silvesto Figarez were also found guilty by the court for covering up the incident. Silvesto Figarez has been sentenced to one year in jail and slapped a penalty of Rs 5000.

Though Ajitha was found guilty in the case, she was exempted from punishment under Probation of Offenders Act. The doctor was booked for failing to inform the matter to the police. 

As per the complaint, the girl was first abused by Figarez at parish house attached to the church in January last year. He abused the girl several times on the pretext of giving counselling.

The girl later revealed the matter before her mother, who filed a complaint with the police.