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Kerala cops grill Bishop for 9 hours

Kerala cops grill Bishop for 9 hours
Bishop Franco Mullackal (file)
Thiruvananthapuram, Aug 14 (AGENCIES) | Publish Date: 8/14/2018 12:33:47 PM IST

A priest in Jalandhar accused of raping a nun was questioned by the Kerala police for over five hours. The questioning which began Monday night continued till early this morning. 

A 46-year-old nun from Kerala had alleged that Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mullackal sexually abused her 13 times between 2014 and 2016. She went to the police only after the Bishop filed a counter complaint, accusing the nun and her family of threatening and blackmailing him.

On Monday, the Kerala police told the High Court that the Bishop repeatedly raped the nun for almost two years, between May 2014 and September 2016 and confined her in a convent in Kerala. 

But, after questioning the Bishop, the police said there are discrepancies in the dates mentioned by him and the nun. The Bishop is likely to be questioned again. His mobile phone and other evidences submitted by him have been taken for further examination. 

“After verifying his part of the story, further steps will be taken. This is an old case so we are collecting more evidence,” police officer K Subhash said. Several mediapersons from Kerala were allegedly assaulted by a group of private security guards at the Bishop House in Jalandhar ahead of the questioning.

Forty eight days after Bishop Franco Mullackal was booked for rape, he is yet to be arrested. The Bishop has claimed innocence and said he is a victim of vendetta for taking disciplinary action against the nun.

The investigating officer’s statement of fact before the court, accessed by NDTV, says, “It is revealed that the accused Bishop Franco committed unnatural offence and committed rape repeatedly on different dates from 05/05/2014 - 23/09/2016 -  against her (nun’s) will and consent, by abusing his dominance over her as bishop of Jalandhar after confining her in the guest room of the convent.”

The nun, in her statement, has told the police and the magistrate that she was sexually assaulted by Bishop Franco first on the night of May 5, 2014. She said she was raped multiple times after that, all the way till September 23, 2016.

On Monday, the police provided the court with the status of the case, including the statements of three top catholic priests, two Bishops and a Cardinal. The police was responding to a petition by Kerala Catholic Church Reformation Movement seeking speedy investigation in the case.

The police told the High Court that a lookout circular had been issued last month to prevent the Bishop from flying out of India.  

“The statement of the doctor who conducted the medical test on the survivor was also recorded in which she says there is evidence of sexual assault,” the police told the court. 

Police have also questioned and recorded the statements of several other nuns who lived in the same convent as the survivor. These nuns, police say, were aware of what the happenings. Police have also questioned the father of a nun, who wrote a letter to him saying, “My life is in danger and if anything happened to her, Bishop Franco is responsible for her misery.”

Rejecting allegations of laxity or indifference, the police said the statements of a woman in Delhi, who is also the prime witness in the case and her husband, were taken on August 3.

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