Nun rape case: Police plan to appeal against Bishop Franco's acquittal, seek legal advice

Former Bishop Franco Mulakkal
Former Bishop Franco Mulakkal. Photo: Rijo Joseph/Manorama

Kottayam: A day after a Sessions Court here acquitted Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal of the charge of raping a nun in a convent in the State, Kerala police on Saturday sought legal advice to move an appeal against the verdict in the High Court.

Kottayam Superintendent of Police D Shilpa told reporters that the police have sought legal opinion from the special public prosecutor to move an appeal against the judgment.

"We got the detailed verdict late Friday. We have sought a legal opinion to move the appeal," she said.

Special Public Prosecutor Jithesh J Babu will give legal advice in the case within one or two days.

The police have also elicited the views of the inquiry officer in the case, Vaikom former DySP PK Subhash.

The application for appeal will be forwarded to the government through the District Collector. The Advocate General will give final legal advice to the state government on the matter. The appeal period is 60 days.

The judgment in the case was analysed at a meeting held in the Police Headquarters on Saturday. The police found that the contradictions in the statement had made the court doubt the credibility of the survivor. It is also found that minor contradictions led the court to raise doubts over the credibility of the statement given by some of the prosecution witnesses.

Meanwhile, Vaikom DySP AJ Thomas visited the St. Francis Mission Home at Nadukunnu where the Sister, who gave a complaint against Bishop Franco, is staying. He held discussions with the Sisters there.

The security of the Mission Home would be beefed up by the police since the inmates, including Sister Anupama, had complained that they were facing a threat to life. At present, the Mission Home is given security by the armed police.

Meanwhile, Bishop Franco Mulakkal on Saturday visited Kerala Janapaksham chairman P C George, who had been backing Mulakkal since the issue came out.

He also visited various churches in the district, but refused to comment before the media. By evening, he visited Kalathipady Christian Retreat Centre. Later, he left for Thrissur.

George, who met the media after the meeting, said the case was an effort to target the Church.

He said the case was part of a conspiracy to target the Church and the believers.

Mulakkal, 57, was accused of raping the nun multiple times during his visit to a convent in this district between 2014 and 2016 when he was the Bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church. The complainant is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus, a diocesan congregation under the Jalandhar Diocese.

Acquitting the Bishop, the judge of the Additional District and Sessions Court I, Kottayam, in the order, said the victim's claim that she was raped on 13 occasions under duress cannot be taken reliance on the basis of her solitary testimony.

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