Kerala nun rape case: Crucial witness punctures Bishop Franco's defence

Statements from witness nun, bishop's driver contradict Mulakkal's claims

nun kerala A nun holding a rosary as protesting nuns can be seen in the background holding placards that read "Our lives are in danger" | Josekutty Panackal

A police team investigating the sensational rape case of a Kerala nun is gearing up to interrogate the cleric again. Franco Mulakkal, the bishop of Jalandhar diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, who is accused of raping the nun at a convent in Kuravilangad in Kottayam district, will find the going tough as the statement of a crucial witness has tightened the noose against him.

A statement by a nun, who keeps the visitors' register at a convent in Muthalakode, has punctured the bishop's argument that he was not at the Kuravilangad institution on the day when the alleged rape took place. The nun who keeps the visitors' register at the Kuravilangad convent told the police that Franco had reached the convent on the date of the crime as mentioned in the nun's complaint. However, the bishop tried to challenge it saying he stayed at another convent at Muthalakode that day, but the official at this place refuted it. The statements by the bishop's car driver also corroborate the police's findings, it is learnt.

Of the 81 statements recorded so far, three are crucial, say police sources. One of them proves the bishop's alibi wrong. Police sources said the probe team has got evidence that some statements by the bishop were indeed incorrect. They also got explanations corroborating the contradictions in the complainant nun's statements.

The nun's complaint was not convincing in the initial stage since she had not mentioned rape in an earlier complaint written to the cardinal. However, the nun later explained to the cops that she refrained from mentioning it in the complaint since she did not want three other peers, who were with her while preparing the document, to know about the unsavoury episodes. The police are of the view that the clarification is satisfactory.

The police have taken into custody the laptop on which the complaint was typed, a computer, hard disc and the bishop's laptop, among other material evidences. The police team is gathering evidence from inside as well as outside Kerala.

The nun had accused the clergyman of sexually assaulting her repeatedly between 2014 and 2016, a charge denied by him. A protest being staged by five nuns and various Catholic reforms organisations in Kochi seeking justice for the victim, meanwhile, entered the seventh day on Friday.

Cops ready for interrogation

Bishop Franco has been served a notice to appear before the probe team on September 19. Vaikom DSP K. Subash, who leads the probe team, will be in charge of the interrogation, too. Inspector General Vijay Sakhare and Kottayam district police chief Harishankar will supervise.

The police is likely to grill the bishop at the high-tech interrogation room at the Ettumanur police station or at the Kottayam Police Club. The team has examined the facilities at both places. The police station has more scientific facilities, but the club is a more secure place.

The interrogation will be on the basis of the statement already given by the bishop, denying the rape charge.

The police plan to present evidence which will establish that his statement is incorrect.