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Goa police nab Curchorem man, crack cross desecration mystery

7:52 AM, July 17, 2017

India(Goa):Though a Roman Catholic by birth, Pereira hated all religions and didn't believe in or practice any particular religion.

File photo

Nearly a month after a spate of desecrations rocked Goa, police finally managed to arrest 54-year-old Francis Xavier Pereira late on Friday night from close to his residence at Curchorem.

DGP Muktesh Chander said Pereira was nabbed while he was "moving in his vehicle", which has been seized. The hammer used for desecrations was also found in the vehicle, Chander said.

While Chander said the possibility of more persons being involved in the crimes is being investigated, police sources said Pereira has told police that he had no other accomplices.
"He has admitted to all his crimes of desecration, and has also told us how he was able to avoid getting caught by police," Chander said.

"He told us how he cut the cables of the CCTV cameras before going about vandalising the cemetery in Curchorem...This shows his cleverness in committing the crimes and escaping from police eyes," DGP said.

Chander said Pereira had served time in jail for three years after he was convicted under charges of attempt to murder in 2000.

"After his release from jail in 2003, he went about doing all such types of desecration all over Goa. At present he is being interrogated to determine in how many cases he is involved in. During the interrogations, he has admitted to having committed many such crimes, and that he had plans to desecrate many more places and statues across Goa," Chander said.

South Goa SP Arvind Gawas said Pereira is suspected to be involved in nearly 150 cases of desecration over the past 14 years. He said it was the biggest ever case of such magnitude that has been cracked by Goa police.

"It was a massive exercise of investigation that we were engaged in for the past few days. Extensive patrolling, technical data analysis, police intelligence, and lot many things went into the exercise that finally yielded results. We had laid a trap and he walked into it," Gawas said.

Pereira initially denied his complicity in any of the crimes, but when police confronted him with evidence, he confessed, police sources said, adding that he didn't show the slightest sign of remorse.

Asked about Pereira's motives behind defiling holy structures, Chander said those details will come out during the course of his sustained custodial interrogations, but police sources informed the accused had an ideologically prejudiced mindset. Though a Roman Catholic by birth, Pereira hated all religions and didn't believe in or practice any particular religion.
Police sources described him as "a radical ideologue".

"He was driven by a certain personal ideology that led him to commit such hate crimes," a senior police officer closely associated with the investigations said.

Asked if there was any political angle to Pereira's motives, Gawas said nothing has come out in the investigations so far about his political leanings that could lend any credence to such a theory. He, however, said police are investigating if his personal enmity towards local MLA Nilesh Cabral could have anything to do with the desecration of holy structures and cemetery in Curchorem.

An eight-member team of the anti-terrorism squad and a 10-member special team led by PI Ravindra Dessai were involved in the investigation.

Source: Times of India

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