Muslim stepfather and police wrongfully implicate Christian youth in murder of mother to grab property. PCP Report.


KARACHI: January 02. Pressure is mounting on a Christian youth to abandon his house ownership claim some five months after his mother was brutally murdered here. Twenty seven-year-old Dominic Alphonso has been asked several times to appear before

He says two police officials had even told him that they suspect him of involvement in the murder of his 55-year-old mother. Christian clerics and rights activists have denounced the police claim, arguing that he was a "good and upright boy" who was close to his mother. "This is nothing but a sorry attempt to scare him into withdrawing his status as legal heir," said Cyril D'souza, an evangelist. "Since he wasn't formally charged, why was he summoned so many times by the police?" he asked. The civil rights group Conscience has also condemned the underhand attempt to link him to the murder. Catholic priest Fr Melito Dias also expressed surprise over the police suggestion. Dominic's mother, Crystalline Almeida, was found strangulated in her house in the upper Gizri area on August 31,barely seven weeks after transferring the ownership of her house to her son. Crystalline, a 55-year-old widow who remarried in 1996 had been murdered four days before. Her body, already in an advanced state of decay, was buried hurriedly in a Sohrab Goth graveyard on the same night that it was found. Neither Dominic nor his stepfather was present at the time. Dominic only came to know about the murder the next day, though Malik made a late-night phone call to a Gizri neighbour's shop to confirm the incident. It was not clear how he found about the murder, though. The police showed his stepson a set of photographs for the purpose of identification. From these photos he was able to identify his mother. "It was a horrible sight. Her hands were tied and her knees were bent. Her face was contorted and her neck bore signs of asphyxiation," Dominic recalled. Relations between Dominic and his stepfather were far from cordial. To escape confrontation, he took up residence elsewhere in the city and from time to time his mother went to live with him. She frequently complained of beatings and mistreatment at the hands of her husband, a native of Haripur, whom she discovered was married to three other women. He often squabbled with Ms. Almeida, a trained nurse and professional care giver, over money and other domestic matters. By the time her son was married in May 2002, Crystalline and Malik were already an estranged couple. She left her house in Gizri and went to live with the newlyweds. But after a two-month stay she returned to her own house, apprehensive that Malik may grab it at some point. She even approached a lawyer, Ishtiaqul Kanorvi, and drew up papers for immediate property transfer. Under a document signed on July 5, 2002, Dominic became the sole heir and owner of the house, which had been occupied by Ms. Almeida for 22 years. Her action was prompted by a barrage of demands from Malik, who resorted to trickery and blackmail to gain house ownership. On February 16, 2001, a terse announcement appeared in the Urdu-language newspaper Jang under the name of Crystalline Almeida. In it she purportedly disinherited Dominic, her only child, on the grounds that he had been disobedient. Months later, Ms. Almeida found out about the notice and expressed shock and indignation over its publication. Yet no retraction or withdrawal of notice was ever submitted for publication. Ms. Almeida told her son that she feared a backlash from her husband if she attempted to withdraw or contest the published notice. Dominic is currently seeking legal advice on his rights. Clerics have urged him to keep a low profile in public and conceal his whereabouts for such time, as the real murderer is unmasked.

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