Indian Catholic News

Bishop Mulakkal continues in police custody

Bishop Franco Mulakkal has been accused of repeatedly sexually abusing the nun between 2014 and 2016.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar (File photo)

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, arrested for repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting a nun in Kerala, has been sent to the custody of the police for two days by a court. His petition for bail was dismissed on Saturday.

After three days of questioning, Kerala Police on Friday arrested Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar on charges of repeatedly raping a nun, police said.

This is the first time in the country that a bishop has been arrested for rape. "Given the stature of the accused, the police left nothing to chance before arresting him," said a police officer who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

The arrest came after the bishop was questioned for three consecutive days at the Crime Branch office in Tripunithura, a suburb of Ernakulam city in Kerala.

The police have taken Mulakkal for a medical examination and plans to produce him before a magistrate in Kottayam as the crime took place in that district, officials told media.

Mulakkal has been accused of repeatedly sexually abusing the nun between 2014 and 2016. She raised her complaint against the Bishop in June.

The news of his arrest was received with shouting of slogans at a venue where five nuns have been on an indefinite protest along with the public for the past 14 days demanding his arrest.

"We still can't believe that he has been arrested. We are overjoyed," exclaimed a nun.

"We are extremely happy. This happened only because we got the support of the public and also the media," said another nun.

The arrest became a certainty on Friday morning when a police official came to the victim, who is staying at a convent near Kottayam, to take statements for the seventh time since June, when she first raised the issue.

The official took about half hour and passed on the outcome to the investigation officer who was questioning the bishop.

The nuns in Kochi protesting for the past 14 days demanding his arrest secured widespread support from the civil society.

Like in the past two days, on Friday too the bishop accompanied by his counsel and a few priests arrived for the questioning under heavy police escort around 10.45 a.m.

With Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan in the US for medical treatment, Industries Minister E.P. Jayarajan, the de facto Chief Minister, said earlier that the probe was progressing in the right direction.

"The government has always been with the victim and whosoever does a wrong, the wrongdoer will be taken to task," he said.

With the bishop's arrest, his anticipatory bail plea filed before the Kerala High Court on September 25 has turned infructuous.

An FIR was registered against the bishop and a 114-page detailed statement was taken from the nun and other inmates of the convent, giving an unprecedented jolt to the community.


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