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Bishop accused of raping Kerala nun arrested after third day of questioning

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM Sept 21: Franco Mulakkal, the Catholic priest accused of raping a nun, has been arrested after the third straight day of questioning today by the police.

“The investigating officer in the nun rape case has found that the bishop has committed the crime,” Kottayam Superintendent of Police Hari Sankar told journalists. The bishop was taken for a medical examination after his arrest.

Amid outrage and protests over the sexual assault allegations, the Kerala government had assured the probe by the Special Investigation Team was proceeding in the “right direction” and that justice will be done.

“Investigation is going in the right direction. The government is with the victim. The government is with the nuns staging the protest. Certainly the government will take all necessary steps to identify the culprits and bring the guilty to book,” senior Kerala Minister E P Jayarajan told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram earlier in the day.

The minister’s statement came a day after Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, the state secretary of Kerala’s ruling CPI(M), said the protest by nuns in front of the high court for Franco Mulakkal’s arrest was “ill-motivated” and part of a political campaign against the Left Front government, news agency PTI reported.

Today, in an article published in CPI(M) mouthpiece ‘Deshabhimani’, Mr Balakrishnan said, “Some forces are trying to portray the nuns’ protest as against the government.”

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.

At a news conference in Kottayam, he claimed that he had photographs and videos of the nun with the bishop on the days after the alleged incident in which she “looked happy”.

Franco Mulakkal was divested of his pastoral responsibilities as the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese of the Missionaries of Jesus by the Vatican Thursday.

Kottayam Superintendent of Police Hari Sankar has said the Special Investigation Team (SIT) probing the case would complete the interrogation Friday.

The bishop was questioned for more than six hours on Wednesday and again for eight hours on Thursday. He was asked to appear before the SIT at the crime branch office this morning at 10:30 and questioned till late evening.

The police had sought legal opinion as to whether Franco Mulakkal, whose anticipatory bail plea is pending before the high court, can be arrested before his petition is addressed.

The bishop has denied the allegations of repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting a nun of his own congregation.

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