LIMA – A Colombian priest was arrested in the southern Peruvian region of Puno for allegedly molesting a 9-year-old girl who has Down syndrome, the Peru.21 newspaper reported Tuesday.
The Rev. Antonio Jose Zapata Calle was reported to authorities two months ago by the girl’s family and a court in Puno ordered his arrest after the investigation was completed.
The 47-year-old priest is being held at a prison in the city of Juliaca under tight security due to fears that other inmates might attack him because his case involves a child.
Zapata arrived in Puno four months ago to do missionary work.
The South Andean Human Rights Institute plans to ask the court to sentence the priest to life in prison if he is convicted of molesting the girl, the newspaper said.
Congress approved a law in 2006 that imposes life prison terms on those convicted of raping children younger than 10.
Some 1,000 children are raped each year in Peru, official figures show. EFE