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Travel request from Alberta priest accused of sexual assault rejected

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PEACE RIVER, Alta. - A Catholic priest in northwestern Alberta who is accused of sexually assaulting a minor has been told he cannot travel outside Canada to attend a funeral because he is considered a flight risk.

The order was issued following a preliminary hearing Thursday in Peace River for Abraham Azhakathu, who is facing charges of sexual assault and sexual interference.

The 59-year-old man's brother died in India earlier this year, but a request by the accused to participate in a memorial service was rejected by both the Crown prosecutor and provincial court Judge C. K. Thietke (TEE'-kah).

The priest, who remains free under strict conditions, will return to court Sept. 5 in Peace River to set a trial date.

RCMP have said the alleged assaults occurred in 2013 and were reported to police by the minor.

Azhakathu was practising in the Manning area at the time. (CKYL)

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