Kerala Nun Rape Accused Franco Mulakkal To be Arrested

Indian Christian nuns and Muslim supporters protest as they demand the arrest of Bishop Franco Mulakkal

Bishop Franco Mulakkal, the head of the Diocese of Jalandhar, who is now facing probe after a Kerala nun accused him of rape, has reportedly been questioned by the Kerala Police at the Kochi Crime Branch Office in Tripunithura on September 19.

The 54-year old Mulakkal was arrested by Kerala police after intense interrogation here over the last three days.

The police may have to take a decision on whether or not to arrest the bishop, who was relieved of his responsibilities as the head of the Jalandhar diocese by the Vatican on Thursday. Mulakkal is accused of raping a nun 13 times between 2014- 2016.

There was no immediate comment from Bishop Franco Mulakkal or his lawyers - though he has denied the charges in interviews in the past. "That we will discuss with the legal team".

Independent legislator PC George, who had drawn outrage earlier this month for calling the nun "a prostitute" before apologising, today said the bishop was being framed by the investigators.

On Wednesday, the Jalandhar Bishop was interrogated for almost seven hours since 11 in the morning.

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When asked whether Mulakkal can be arrested before September 25, the day his anticipatory bail plea will come up for hearing in the high court, the top police officer said, "I think, legally there is no problem".

Outside India, the Catholic Church is facing sexual abuse scandals in the United States, Chile, Australia, Germany and other countries. Pope Francis has appointed Bishop Agnelo Rufino Gracias, the Auxiliary Bishop Emeritus of Bombay, to take over the duties of Bishop Franco Mulakkal.

Nuns who were on a sit in at Kochi demanding the bishop's arrest called off their stir following firm indications that the police investigation team would arrest him later in the evening. They had also staged a protest on Wednesday. From a small protest by five nuns, it has virtually grown into a movement over the past week with nuns and priests from various churches joining in.

Mulakkal has, however, dismissed the allegations as "baseless and concocted", insisting he was "innocent". The statement has also said that the allegations against the bishop are completely baseless.

Investigating team is examining him. The nun had claimed that most of the times it was unnatural sex.

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