London priest accused of using money for Syrian refugees on gambling back in court in March

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London Free Press

Thursday, February 2, 2017 9:12:00 EST PM

By Jane Sims, The London Free Press

Father Amer Saka. (MIKE HENSEN, The London Free Press)

Father Amer Saka. (MIKE HENSEN, The London Free Press)

The case of a London priest charged with defrauding more than 20 people of money meant for Syrian refugees is crawling slowly through the justice system.

Thursday was another routine check-in of Father Amer Saka’s case in the daily appearance and case management court in London.

He wasn’t required to attend and his lawyer, Iryna Revutsky of Toronto, had a local lawyer handle the two-minute court appearance.

The case has already had a judicial pre-trial and discussions continue between the Crown and the defence.

The case has been adjourned to March 9 for another check-in on its status.

Saka, 51, was charged last summer after a five-month investigation following allegations that more than $500,000 from parishioners had gone ­missing from a refugee trust fund. Seven or eight London families had contributed to the fund for a private sponsorship program for refugee relatives.

The former pastor at St. Joseph’s Chaldean Catholic Church in London, and administrator of the Mar Ouraha parish in Kitchener, is charged with fraud valued at more than $5,000 and possessing the proceeds of property or a thing valued at more than $5,000.

The priest, who was suspended from his duties last March, told friends he had ministered to prisoners in Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison.

His bishop told several media outlets in March that Saka had gambled away the money.

Saka remains free on bail ­conditions that include a ban on attending gambling casinos.

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