Kerala nun rape case: New complaint claims Franco Mulakkal harassed priest who testified against him
The brother of Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, who was found dead in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur on Monday, has lodged a police complaint alleging the priest was being harassed by former Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal and his supporters.Updated: Oct 24, 2018 13:11 IST
The brother of Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, who was found dead in Punjab’s Hoshiarpur on Monday, has lodged a police complaint alleging the priest was being harassed by former Jalandhar bishop Franco Mulakkal and his supporters.
Kattuthara, 62, had testified against Mulakkal, who was arrested last month after allegations of raping the Kerala nun repeatedly over a period of two years. Kattuthara had alleged there were attempts by the church to hush up the sexual assault complaint of the nun against Mulakkal.
His brother Jose Kattuthara, cousin John Thomas and nephew Jojo Thomas reached Dasuya in the morning from Kerala to lodge the police complaint. Dasuya police initiated the inquest proceedings following the complaint and the body was handed over to the family after the post-mortem examination.
“I and my family members suspect that our brother’s death was not natural as he was under pressure and being tortured by Franco and his people,” Jose said in his complaint.
“Father Kuriakose was the first priest who spoke against Franco through electronic media. Since then he was threatened by Franco and his own parish members started turning against him at Franco’s directions,” he said.
“He (Kuriakose) told me that ever since Franco came out on bail, he was being mentally tortured,” Jose said in the complaint.
Jose said Kattuthara’s salary was reduced to Rs 500 and that too was irregular. “He was one of the senior priests of the diocese. All his positions were taken away from him,” he said.
The complaint added that Kattuthara’s residence and a vehicle parked outside his residence was attacked the day he gave a statement against Mulakkal.
Dasuya station house officer Jagdish Raj Attri said they have lodged the complaint and further action will be taken on the basis of the autopsy report.
After the postmortem, Kattuthara’s embalmed body was taken to the St Mary Cathedral Church at Jalandhar Cantonment for prayers conducted by bishop Agnelo Rufino Gracias. The body will be airlifted from Delhi to Kerala on Wednesday afternoon.
Kattuthara, a native of Allepy in Kerala, was found dead in his room at St Mary’s Church in Dasuya by his cook around 9am on Monday.
“When we broke opened the door, we found father lying on his bed. We immediately took him to the civil hospital, where he was declared brought dead,” Sister Lisabeth, the principal of the St Paul Convent School, said.
“There was vomit in the room and some tablets were found near the bed,” she added.
‘Kattuthara had differences with Mulakkal’
Father James Chaco Ullatil, the head priest at Dasuya church, said Kattuthara’s family has wrongly claimed that his salary was reduced to Rs 500 and alleged they were doing it to put pressure on the police.
“We don’t have any salary and get Rs 5,000 as a monthly stipend, besides free medical and travel facilities. Father Kuriokose was getting the same,” he said.
When asked whether there was any rift between Kuriakose and Mulakkal, Ullatil said, “Father Kuriakose didn’t like the policies and working style of Franco.”
Ullatil said Kuriakose had been suffering from several ailments, including diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problem. “On October 9, his (Kuriakose) sugar level was 500 mg/dL,” he said.