Filipino Priest Awaits Trial in an Arab Emirate

Dec 23, 2002 02:54 PM EST

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates - The Philippine Embassy reported the release of the Rev. Fernando Alconga on Thursday, after one week of detention for proselytizing charges. The Reverend was arrested outside of a al-Bustan shopping mall in Dubai while distributing leaflets and brochures promoting Christianity.

"He was charged with proselytizing, but was released into the custody of his lawyer on Tuesday," said the Philippine consul-general Jose Ampeso.

Alconga after being caught served in detention and had his passport confiscated. His trial is set at an undetermined date.

Other sources, such as the International Christian Concern, a Pennsylvania based rights group believe Alconga was framed. They say that undercover police encouraged awakened Alconga, who had been sleeping in his car, to show them his supply of Christian materials, and thenceforth arrested him.

Alconga belongs to the Redeemer and King Filipino Church of Ras al-Khaima, one of the seven constituent emirates of the United Arab Emirates.

By Paulina C.