Catholic bishop Dr Franco Mulakkal could be arrested after another round of questioning by the Kerala police. Crucial evidence against the bishop has been gathered by the police, local media reports from Kerala said on Friday.
Earlier this week, the police served a summons to the rape-accused bishop, asking him to be present for questioning in Kerala on September 19, even as a public protest by the nuns in Kochi gathered national attention. The unprecedented agitation by the nuns echoed in Jalandhar as well, where protests erupted this week.
The investigating officers have secured crucial witness statements that proved that the bishop's defence in the rape case founded on lies, Malayala Manorama reported.
Police also said they could clear doubts and inconsistencies in the statement by the Missionaries of Jesus (MJ) nun who accused the Jalandhar bishop of raping her on several occasions in Kerala. Police have ascertained through witness statements that the bishop was present in the convent in Kuravilangadu in Kottayam on the day mentioned by the nun in her complaint.
A nun who made the entry of the bishop's visit on the convent register on that day has given the statement to the police, the paper reported. The bishop's driver also confirmed the visit. In his statement the bishop had claimed that he had stayed in another convent in Muthalakkodam on that day. This has been proved wrong, according to the police.
The rape case
The nun from Kerala, who is from the Syro-Malabar denomination, says the bishop raped her at her convent in 2014. The sexual violation by the high priest continued over the next two years.
As the complaint against the Franco merged, the bishop allegedly tried to suppress it and persuaded other nuns to file false complaint against the nun.
The relatives of two other nuns from the convent have said the bishop threatened them with ex-communication. The raped nun and others have said the bishop used to send indecent chat messages to them at night.
A priest from the community also said that several nuns in the church had raised allegations of sexual abuse against the bishop.
As the abuse saga unfolded the church leadership was pushed on the defensive. The nun and her family revealed that a complaint had been given to the Major Archbishop of the Syro Malabar Church in Kerala last year but no action was taken against the bishop.
The bishop has always maintained that he is innocent. Mulakkal said the nuns' complaint was part of a larger conspiracy against the catholic church. He said the allegation has maligned him and the church but truth would eventually win.
Who Is Bishop Franco Mulakkal?
Bishop Franco is a high-ranking clergyman from the Syro-Malabar church in Kerala, an independent Catholic church that is affiliated to the Church in Rome. He was born in Kerala in 1964 and was ordained priest in 1990. Franco was made an Auxiliary Bishop in 2009 and he served in Delhi, according to Catholic Hierarchy website. Pope Francis made him a bishop in 2013 and was moved to Jalandhar. Bishop Franco has a PhD in theology and an MA degree from Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar.