Kerala court gives clean chit to Bishop Franco Mullakal in nun rape case
A court in Kottayam on Friday freed bishop Franco Mullakal of all charges in the nun rape case.
The verdict absolving the former bishop of Jalandhar Diocese of all charges was pronounced by additional sessions judge G Gopakumar.
On his way out of the court, Mulakkal said, "Lord is supreme. Truth prevailed." Initial reports suggested lack of scientific evidence led to his acquittal.
Expressing his shock at the verdict, superintendent of police S Harishankar, who supervised the investigation, said the verdict is unbelievable. “We will definitely go for appeal. There are enough corroborative and circumstantial evidence. Wrong to say there are not enough evidences. We are really disappointed. We will go for appeal."
Public prosecutor Jithesh G Babu said, “We expected jail for the deposed bishop. The outcome is really shocking.”
Sister Anupama, who led the stir, “We will fight it out. We don't know what happened. Trial went on well. We don't know what happened in the end.”
“We are ready to die to uphold our cause. We will fight till we get justice for the rape victim. We will stay at the convent,” the teary-eyed nun said.
A heavy police force was seen deployed outside the Kottayam additional sessions court ahead of pronouncement of the verdict.
The court had concluded the hearing and reserved its verdict in the case on Monday. Trial in the case had started in November 2019. The rape case against the Bishop was registered by police in Kottayam district in 2018.
In her police complaint in June 2018, the nun had alleged that she was subjected to sexual abuse by Franco, then Bishop of the Jalandhar diocese of Roman Catholic Church, between 2014 and 2016.
A Special Investigation team which probed the case, arrested the Bishop and charged him with wrongful confinement, rape, unnatural sex and criminal intimidation. The court had restrained the print and electronic media from publishing any matter relating to the trial in the case without its permission.