Bishop Franco moves court seeking exclusion from accused list in nun rape case

Franco secured bail on October 16, but is no longer head of the diocese

Bishop Franco Mulakkal Bishop Franco Mulakkal | Image courtesy: Missionaries of Jesus

Bishop Franco Mulakkal has led a plea before a court here seeking to remove his name from the list of accused in the nun rape case. Franco, in his plea led on Saturday, has sought to exclude him from the list of the accused before the trial starts. The Kottayam Additional Sessions Court will consider the plea on February 4. 

Kerala Police in April last year submitted a 1,400-page charge sheet against Franco. The Bishop was arrested for allegedly sexually abusing a nun between 2014 and 2016. The charge sheet was led before the Magistrate Court in Pala, where the trial will take place. The charges include rape, unnatural sex and forcibly keeping in custody. 

Franco was arrested on September 21, 2018, on rape charges after four nuns joined a public protest in Kochi forcing the police to take action against the bishop. Franco secured bail on October 16, 2018, but is no longer head of the diocese. The charge sheet names 83 witnesses, which include the Cardinal of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Mar George Alencherry, three bishops, 11 priests and several nuns. 

The probe picked pace only after Sister Anupama, along with three other nuns, staged a public protest, which received huge public support. Last month, the nuns threatened to launch another protest if the charge sheet was delayed. Hearing the news of the submission of the charge sheet, Anupama said they were happy with the development. "We feel we have got 50 per cent justice and wish to thank the police team, which we all know was under tremendous pressure." "We know only half of the job is done, and hope the trial will start soon," she said.