Ex-bishop Franco appears for trial in nun rape case

Ex-bishop Franco appears for trial in nun rape case

Rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal after being arrested by the Kerala police. (PTI Photo)

The former bishop of Jalandhar, Franco Mulakkal, appeared before the additional district sessions court at Kottayam district in Kerala on Saturday in connection with the commencement of trial in the nun rape case.

The court extended Franco's bail and posted the case for a preliminary hearing on January 6. As per procedure, after the preliminary hearing, the court will frame charges against Franco and commence the trial.

Also Read: Kerala nun rape case: Bishop accused of defaming victim

Franco reached the court after offering prayers at St. Antony's Catholic Church. He was accompanied by a few relatives and supporters.

The Kerala police filed charge sheet against Franco in April. He allegedly sexually assaulted a nun, in her mid-forties, of a convent at Kuravilangad in Kottayam district 13 times between 2014 and 2016. He was charged under various sections of Indian Penal Code for rape, unnatural sex, illegal detention and criminal intimidation.

Also Read: Nun allegedly locked up in convent in Kerala

Though the nun complained to the police in 2017 June, the investigation commenced only after protests by a group of nuns under the banner ‘Save our sisters’ in Kochi. Franco was arrested on September 21, 2018.

The nuns who came out in the open demanding action against Franco had been allegedly facing vindictive actions like expulsion from the convent and transfer to other states. Even though Franco was relieved from the charges of bishop after his arrest, he was allegedly having control over the administration of the church.