Kochi: Bishop Franco Mulakkal was on Friday arrested by the Kerala police in connection with the rape of a Kerala nun, Kottayam Superintendent of Police (SP) Hari Sankar confirmed. Addressing the media here, Sankar said, “On basis of the evidence collected so far and the interrogation that continued for three days, we arrested Bishop Franco at 8 pm today in regard to the petition filed against him.” “We are taking him for the medical examination. The subsequent investigation will continue and he’ll be produced before a magistrate court tomorrow morning,” Sankar added.
The Kottayam SP refused to disclose the evidences found against the Bishop, saying, “Evidences cannot be disclosed at this stage because the matter is under investigation and it has to go through a trial process, but the investigating officer has reached a reasonable conclusion that there is evidence in this case and we have decided to arrest him.” SP Sankar further stated the charges that Bishop Mulakkal has been found guilty of. They are rape and unnatural sexual intercourse, criminal intimidation and illegal confinement.
When asked if the investigation team will take action against those who came out in support of Bishop Mullakal, Sankar stated that separate cases have been registered in such matters, and are being investigated, adding that arrests will be made when the evidence is ample. Mulakkal had on Friday appeared before the Kochi Police’s Special Investigation Team (SIT) for the third day. He reached the Crime Branch (CID) office in Thrippunithura this morning and was quizzed by a five-member team headed by Vaikom Deputy Superintendent of Police, K Subhash. Bishop Mulakkal, in charge of the Jalandhar diocese, was on Thursday relieved of his pastoral duties by Pope Francis after he wrote to the Pope, expressing his desire to ‘temporarily step aside’ from the responsibilities of the diocese to fight his case.
The senior Catholic priest was accused of raping the nun as many as 13 times between 2014 and 2016. He, however, refuted the allegations, terming them “baseless and concocted.” A number of priests and nuns have been protesting against the bishop in Kerala. Activists had on Thursday staged a protest outside the Kerala Secretariat in Trivandrum, demanding the arrest of Bishop Mulakkal. Mulakkal had earlier filed for anticipatory bail in the Kerala High Court, which was deferred to September 25.