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Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of rape by Kerala nun, arrested in Kochi

Priest Franco Mulakkal, who has been grilled by the Kerala Police, is accused of rape and unnatural sex by a nun.

Updated: Sep 22, 2018 10:29:12

By Ramesh Babu

Bishop Franco Mulakkal (2nd right), accused of raping a nun, is pictured outside a crime branch office on the outskirts of Kochi in Kerala. (Reuters Photo)

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of rape by a Kerala nun, was arrested in Kochi on Friday evening following three days of questioning by the state police.

“Mulakkal was arrested at 8 pm and taken for a medical check-up. He has been charged with rape, unnatural intercourse, criminal intimidation, and illegal confinement,” Kottayam superintendent of police S Hari Shankar told reporters.

On the time taken to arrest the bishop, he said that “cases, which date back to four years, take time... most of these cases will not have scientific or medical evidence.”

“During three days of interrogation, we got enough information needed for the case. The accused was given enough time to present his side. The investigating officer has a reached a reasonable conclusion that there is evidence in this case and we have arrested him,” said Hari Shankar.



 

Mulakkal (54), who was temporarily divested of his pastoral duties in the Jalandhar diocese by the Vatican on Thursday, will be produced before the Pala magistrate’s court at 11 am on Saturday, the SP said, adding that the police will seek three days custody.

The news was welcomed with jubilation at the dharna site in Kochi where nuns of the Missionaries of Jesus and officials of various churches have been protesting past ten days.

“It is a historic win. It was not a movement against the church but it was move to cleanse the system. It is time for the church to break its silence. We don’t need more Francos,” said Sister Anupama, who had been leading the stir in Kochi.

Mulakkal, who has been grilled by the Kerala Police over allegations, had reached the Crime Branch office in Thrippunithura on Friday morning after an eight-hour-long interrogation on Thursday.

Hari Sankar had said the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case decided to complete the interrogation Friday. Police had said verification was required in matters so far placed before the investigation team and that would be completed by Friday morning.

Police had also ought a legal opinion as to whether Mulakkal, whose anticipatory bail plea is pending before the high court, can be arrested.

Amid the continued outrage over the alleged sexual assault of the nun, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of India (CBCI) said Thursday Pope Francis had temporarily relieved him of his pastoral responsibilities, a decision that was welcomed by the protesting nuns who termed the development as the “first victory” in their fight against the former bishop.

“After Nirbhaya case there was an amendment that if a sexual assault takes place after the victim’s deposition before police or a magistrate, arrest of the accused should not exceed more than two months. In nun’s case, police violated this for reasons best known to them,” said lawyer and activist VK Mini, adding that ‘Save Nun Forum’ will approach the court soon.

Mulakkal has been accused of repeated rape and sexual assault of the nun by the Kerala-based nun of Missionaries of Jesus but he has denied the allegations, terming them a conspiracy against the church.

First Published: Sep 21, 2018 13:00:12

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