Bishop Franco appears before police for questioning

Bishop Franco appears before police for questioning

ANI file photo

Franco Mulakkal, the Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar accused of having raped a Kottayam-based nun, on Wednesday appeared before the investigating team in Tripunithura, in Ernakulam district, for questioning in connection with the case.

The 54-year-old bishop arrived at the Crime Branch office in Tripunithura, where a hi-tech facility has been set up for the interrogation, at about 11 am. The bishop was originally scheduled to be questioned in Kottayam. The investigating team shifted the location, late on Tuesday, citing security reasons. A team led by Vaikom DySP K Subhash is questioning the bishop.

According to the complainant, a nun attached to the Missionaries of Jesus (MJ) congregation, the bishop raped her multiple times between 2014 and 2016. She filed a complaint with the police in Kuravilangad in Kottayam on June 28, regarding the abuse. Later, the nun revealed that she approached the police after her repeated pleas for intervention by high authorities in the church, including in the Vatican, was unaddressed.

On Tuesday, Franco approached the Kerala High Court seeking a pre-arrest bail. The court has adjourned hearing on the matter to September 25.

The rape allegation has rocked the Church and set off a series of protests across the state, including one led by MJ nuns in Kochi, since September 8.