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 Post subject: Monk ingests poison after Sri Lankan court sentences him
 Post Posted: Mon May 16, 2005 6:04 pm 
Buddhist monk ingests poison after Sri Lankan court sentences him for child sex abuse

@Associated Press, Mon May 16, 2005 06:35 EDT . SHIMALI SENANAYAKE

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) - A monk drank poison and was rushed to a hospital Monday, minutes after becoming the first Buddhist clergyman to be convicted of child abuse in Sri Lanka, court officials and police said.
The saffron-robed monk was found guilty of grave sexual abuse of a 16-year-old girl in 2001 and was given the maximum 20-year penalty by the high court, court official N.K. Siripala said.

Soon after the sentence, the monk drank from a bottle he had concealed in his robes and collapsed, Siripala said. He was rushed to a hospital.

``The priest is in critical condition,'' said Hector Weerasinghe, director of the Colombo National Hospital. He said the 55-year-old monk had consumed some insecticide.

The priest belongs to a temple in Nugegoda, just outside the capital Colombo, where the victim was a Sunday school student, Siripala said.

Monday's conviction came a day after a senior Buddhist monk was arrested on charges of sexually abusing a teenager in another Sri Lankan temple, officials said.

The monk, who heads a temple in the coastal town of Matara, 130 kilometers (80 miles) south of Colombo, allegedly abused the 15-year-old girl over a period of time, said Dimutu Galappatti, spokesman for the National Child Protection Authority.

The monk was arrested on Sunday by a special police unit attached to the authority as a result of a tip-off, he said.

Several pornographic videotapes and contraceptives were found in the monk's possession at the temple, Galappatti said.

Reports of child abuse by Buddhist priests have increased in recent years, but this is the first conviction of a monk on abuse charges.

About 70 percent of Sri Lanka's 19 million people are Buddhists, and monks hold a tremendous influence in this Buddhist-majority country. They play a major role in molding the island's political and social fabric.


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