KEY POINTS

  • Ravinesh Chand sexually assaulted and raped a member of his congregation in March 2019
  • He was found guilty of rape and sexual assault on Dec. 15
  • After being convicted, Chand fled the court in his taxi

Pastor Ravinesh Chand has been on the run since being convicted of three counts of rape and one count of sexual assault at the High Court in Suva, Fiji on Dec 15.

According to FijiSun, the manhunt for the 38-year-old pastor began when he did not appear for his sentencing scheduled for 2 p.m. "He told me that he was going outside to see his wife," Iqbal Khan, Chand's lawyer, told the court. Khan spoke to Chand at 1 p.m. and advised him to be present for the hearing by 1:45 p.m. 

Chand committed the offenses on a member of his congregation in Luvuluvu Road, Nausori in March 2019. 

The victim, who was celebrating her birthday when the incident took place, accompanied Chand to buy a cake after getting permission from her mother. However, the pastor took the victim to a secluded spot, where he sexually assaulted and raped her. Chand then took the teen to the cake shop and dropped her off at the church, reported FBC News

Chand, who has a wife and two children aged 9 and 5, later returned to his family and took part in the birthday celebrations.

Apart from being a pastor, Chand also supports his family by driving a taxi. He is reported to have fled the court in this taxi. Despite the many calls made by Khan, Chand's phone remained switched off, the lawyer informed the court.

According to Police Chief Operations Officer ACP Abdul Khan, Chand was not in custody when he fled from the court. However, he assured the court that the police had already launched a manhunt operation to track down and arrest the pastor.

Several sources questioned why Chand had not been taken into custody after being found guilty of rape.

Meanwhile, Justice Goundar has issued a bench warrant against the runaway pastor. The sentencing will be heard in absentia if Chand remains on the loose by Dec. 16.

police car A representational image of a police car. Photo: pixabay