Priest accused of $500,000 fraud heading to trial

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Preliminary hearing ends early with Amer Saka sent to trial

The London Free Press

Published on: April 9, 2018 | Last Updated: April 9, 2018 4:55 PM EDT

Amer Saka, the former pastor at St. Joseph’s Chaldean Catholic Church in London, is seen outside the London courthouse. Mike Hensen/The London Free Press Mike Hensen/The London Free Press

A priest charged with defrauding more than 20 parishioners of $500,000 intended for Syrian refugees will stand trial.

Father Amer Saka’s case was ordered to move to the Superior Court of Justice at the end of an Ontario Court of Justice preliminary hearing.

The hearing had been slated for two weeks plus a few more days next month. It wrapped up early with Justice Allan Maclure ordering the case move ahead after there was consent from the defence.

Preliminary hearings typically are held to determine if there is enough evidence for a case to continue to trial in a higher court.

Evidence heard at Saka’s hearing is covered by a publication ban.

Father Amer Saka. (File photo)

Saka, 52, is a priest in the Chaldean Catholic Church, which, in Canada, is largely made up first-generation immigrants from Turkey, Iraq and Syria.

He was charged in July 2016 after he had been suspended from his duties at St. Joseph’s Chaldean Catholic church in London and the Mar Ouraha parish in Kitchener.

There were reports that the money from more than 20 people had gone missing from a refugee trust fund.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton oversaw the refugee sponsorship program and said at the time of Saka’s arrest it would follow through with the sponsorships after Saka’s arrest.

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