New Delhi: A Kerala court on Friday acquitted Roman Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal in the rape case of a nun. The verdict was announced by the Kottayam Additional District and Sessions Court II judge G Gopakumar following a trial which went on for over two years.
Acquitting Bishop Franco Mulakkal, the judge observed that the prosecution had failed to produce evidence against the accused.
The 57-year-old Mulakkal was arrested in September 2018 after a nun from Missionaries of Jesus convent in Kerala’s Kuravilangad alleged that he had raped her multiple times in Kottayam district. According to the 50-year-old nun, she was raped 13 times for over two years from May 5, 2014, by Mulakkal during his visit to a convent in Kottayam district when he was the Bishop of the Jalandhar diocese of the Roman Catholic church.
She had alleged that even though she had complained about Mulakkal to several higher officials in the church, including the Pope’s office, but her complaints were ignored.
She later filed a complaint with the police in June 2018 following which a case was registered against Mulakkal. The police booked the bishop under various sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) including 376 (2) (indulging in sex by exhorting authority), 342 (wrongful confinement) and 506 (criminal intimidation). Later, he was arrested and removed from the post of the bishop.
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The Special Investigation Team which probed the case, arrested the Bishop in September 2018 and charged him with wrongful confinement, rape, unnatural sex and criminal intimidation.
The trial in the case started in November 2019. But it got delayed and was finally completed on January 10, 2022. Mulakkal’s counsel had requested an in-camera trial and the media was prohibited from reporting details. Three years on, the court finally delivered its verdict on January 14, 2022.