Bishop held in Kerala nun rape case

Bishop held in Kerala nun rape case

 Kerala Police on Friday arrested Franco Mulakkal, the rape accused Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar. Reuters file photo

Kerala Police on Friday arrested Franco Mulakkal, the rape accused Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Jalandhar, on Friday, 85 days after a Kottayam-based nun approached the police with a petition against him. Speaking with reporters at 7.30 pm, Kottayam SP Hari Sankar said the investigators concluded on "reasonable suspicion" that there was thruth in the charges of the FIR- rape, unnatural sex, illegal confinement and criminal intimidation.

He was later taken to the Kottayam Medical College following a chest pain.

Earlier in the day, reports said the bishop’s arrest was recorded which was later denied by the police. The Special Investigation Team commenced interrogation of Franco at the Crime Branch office in Tripunithura, in Ernakulam district on Wednesday. On Thursday, police said it required more time to verify parts of the bishop’s statement.

The complainant, a nun attached to the Missionaries of Jesus (MJ) congregation, has alleged that the 54-year-old bishop raped her multiple times between 2014 and 2016. Franco maintained that the nun “concocted” the allegation to settle personal scores with him for having initiated disciplinary action against her. The line of defence followed by Franco and his supporters has been based on questions regarding the nun’s motive – they have pointed out that the nun, even after the alleged rape, had continued to associate with the bishop in public events.

In a September 8 letter addressed to the Vatican’s representative in India Archbishop Giambattista Diquattro, the nun sought justice and highlighted the Church’s failure to address her repeated appeals for intervention.


News about the arrest was welcomed with cheers and slogans at a protest venue in Kochi where MJ sisters, activists and the public are staging an unprecedented protest demanding action against the bishop. Sr Anupama, one of the protesting nuns, said the action should not stop at the arrest and sought adequate punishment. Though believers came out in support of the protest which commenced on September 8, the official response from the Church bodies has been confrontational.

The bishop approached the Kerala High Court seeking a pre-arrest bail, a day before appearing for the interrogation. The court adjourned hearing on the plea to September 25.

The investigation team, led by Vaikom DySP K Subhash had in August recorded the bishop’s statement in Jalandhar. The delay in the bishop’s arrest had set off protests that peaked on Thursday after the police stated that an arrest could be considered only after a “holistic analysis” of the investigation.