Kerala nun rape case: Prosecution, victim to file separate petitions in HC against Bishop Franco’s acquittal

Thiruvananthapuram: The prosecution and victim in the nun rape case will file separate appeal petitions in the Kerala High Court against the acquittal of Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal by a lower court in January.

On Wednesday, the state home department asked the advocate general to do the needful for filing the appeal.

According to a source, the victim nun will also be filing an appeal petition shortly.

On January 14, the Kottayam Additional district court judge G.Gopakumar gave a clean chit to Franco. Later, the special prosecutor in the case Jithesh Babu said that the acquittal would be challenged.

The deadline for filing the appeal is 90 days from the date of the lower court verdict.

Incidentally, soon after the lower court’s verdict, the former Kottayam SP of Police Harisankar who oversaw the probe said he was confident that the verdict would be against the accused and never thought they will lose the case.

The trial in the case extended over 105 days with 39 witnesses being examined and 122 documents produced before the court.

While serving as Bishop of the Jalandhar Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church, Franco was accused of raping a nun, who belonged to the Missionaries of Jesus congregation.

During his visits between 2014 and 2016 to Kerala, he was accused of raping the 43-year old nun on 13 occasions. Later, he was removed from the charge of the Jalandhar diocese.

A complaint was filed against him in June 2018 in Kerala and Mulakkal was arrested on September 21, 2018 on rape charges.

He secured bail on October 16, 2018.

The charge sheet named 83 witnesses, including the Cardinal of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church, Mar George Alencherry, three bishops, 11 priests and 22 nuns.

Of the 83 witnesses, 39 were called and they were heard.

Franco had approached the Kerala High Court and also the Supreme Court to quash the FIR against him, but both the courts failed to do so and the trial began.


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