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Kerala nun rape case: Accused bishop asked to appear for questioning on September 19

Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal is facing trial for allegedly raping a nun from Kerala.

Kerala nun rape case: Accused bishop asked to appear for questioning on September 19

KOCHI: The Jalandhar Police has served a notice to Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is accused of raping a Kerala-based nun, to appear for questioning before the Kerala Police on September I 19 in connection with the case.

According to ANI, Bishop Mulakkal, who stepped down and handed over administrative responsibility of Jalandhar diocese to a senior priest, has been asked to appear before the Kerala Police which is probing the case.

Confirming the development, Harishankar, SP Kottayam, said, ''Jalandhar Bishop Franco has been served notice to appear for interrogation on September 19th.''

The SP Kottayam also informed that a criminal case has been registered against Missionaries of Jesus for publishing a letter as well as a photo of the victim nun.

Earlier, Mulakkal, facing probe over allegations of rape, handed over his administrative responsibility of Jalandhar diocese to a senior priest.

"In my absence Msgr Mathew Kokkandam will administer the Diocese as in the normal practice when I am away from the Diocese," Bishop Mulakkal said in a circular.

The circular was issued on September 13, a day after the Kerala Police had asked him to appear before the investigating team on September 19.

The decision to summon the clergyman was taken after a meeting chaired by Vijay Sakhare, Inspector General (Ernakulam range), which was also attended by Kottayam District Superintendent of Police Harisankar and Vaikom Deputy Superintendent of Police K Subhash amid mounting pressure on police to initiate action against Mullakal.

In the circular, the bishop said there were "several contradictions" in the evidences collected against him by the police probing the case.

"I leave everything into the hand of God as I await the result of the findings of the team probing the allegation," he said in it.

A copy of the circular was also made available to the media here.

The nun had recently sought urgent intervention of The Vatican for justice and demanded the bishop's removal as the head of the Jalandhar diocese, questioning why the church was "closing its eyes to the truth" when she had mustered courage to make public her suffering.

She alleged that Bishop Mulakkal was using "political and money power" to "bury" the case against him.

The nun had accused the clergyman of sexually assaulting her repeatedly between 2014 and 2016.

The bishop had, however, dismissed the allegations as "baseless and concocted", insisting she levelled those as the catholic order had rejected her demand for favours. 

Meanwhile, protests over the incident continued in Kerala. 

A group of protesting nuns from Kerala said on Saturday that they "will rest" only after a bishop accused of sexually abusing a senior nun is questioned and arrested.

Speaking to the media, one of the five nuns who along with hundreds of people are protesting here said: "We will not rest and we will not be happy till he is questioned and arrested." 

The statement from the protesting nuns came after it was reported that the accused bishop was handing over his charge.

Another nun said that Bishop Franco was very powerful and cannot be underestimated.

"We will continue the protest and will not stop till Bishop Franco is arrested."

The accused bishop had got a breather from the Kerala High Court which said that "arrest is not the issue" and expressed satisfaction in the ongoing probe.