Indian Catholic bishop arrested ‘for raping nun repeatedly over two years’

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Kochi: Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was questioned by Kerala police for the second day over rape charges by a nun, has been temporarily relieved of his pastoral responsibilities by Pope Francis, the Catholic Bishop Conference of India (CBCI) said on Thursday.

Kochi: The Kerala police arrested Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of rape by a Kerala nun multiple times from 2014-2016 on Friday, following the third day of interrogation by the police officials, sources said.

The Bishop was accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting a nun for two years between 2014 and 2016.

The arrest was anticipated as the investigation team head Hari Sanker, Superintendent of Police, Kottayam, had told the media on Thursday night that the investigation will be wrapped up on Friday.

NDTV reported that the accused Bishop arrived at the Crime Branch Office along with a counsel and other priests at around 11 am. The nun's plaint was five days after the Kuravilangad police registered a case against the brother of the nun on a petition filed on behalf of the bishop by the PRO of the Jalandhar diocese.

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The findings of the internal probe also sparked another controversy as the congregation ousted the survivor nun's image, which evidently violates Indian laws.

Hindustan Times reported the protesting nuns as saying that if the arrest isn't made immediately, their agitation is going to intensify even further.

A group of Catholic nuns launched a rare street protest nearly a fortnight ago in Kochi, the state's financial hub, demanding justice for the nun. Mulakkal has rejected the allegations, calling them a conspiracy against the church. "We are very happy. the Vatican has finally heard our prayers", said one of the nuns. She said she had to approach police because church authorities did not act on her complaints.

"By tomorrow, we will be able to complete the interrogation", he said. Similarly, different courts have routinely criticised police for delaying arrests of those in positions of power. "The arrest depends on the investigation, interrogation and the evidence collected". After the protests were first launched, the Kerala High Court on September asked the police to submit a report on the action that has been taken since the complaint was lodged.

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