Bishop arrested for rape of nun in India

Bishop arrested for rape of nun in India”

The police, who questioned the bishop for eight hours on the second consecutive day at the Tripunithura Crime Branch office, allowed him to leave the station with the questioning set to continue on Friday.

When asked whether Mulakkal can be arrested before September 25, the day his anticipatory bail plea will come up for hearing in the high court, the top police officer said, "I think, legally there is no problem".

The Vatican relieved Franco Mulakkal of his pastoral duties and appointed Bishop Emeritus of the archdiocese of Bombay Agnelo Rufino Gracias as the apostolic administrator of the Jalandhar diocese with immediate effect, said Catholic Bishop Conference of India president, Cardinal Oswald Gracias in a statement. However, the bishop has dismissed the allegations raised by the nun. "For this, three teams will examine them in detail and complete the verifications overnight", he said. A bishop is interrogated over a sexual abuse complaint for the first time in India.

Protests erupted outside the crime branch office in Thrippunithura where Mulakkal was questioned on Thursday.

He also wrote to Pope Francis, the highest authority in the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, expressing his desire to "temporarily step aside" from the responsibilities of the diocese, allowing him time to fight his case. On Thursday, activists staged a protest outside the Kerala Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, demanding that the priest be arrested. The victim nun had also reportedly said that the Bishop had been using his political and economic clout to brush off the case which has been lodged against him. The nun is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation based in Punjab which runs two convents in Kerala.

While the cleric has been served a notice to appear before a probe team for interrogation on September 19, the investigation has already been stretched to over 70 days.

Mr Sankar told reporters on Friday that the police would now investigate charges of rape, illegal confinement, unnatural sex and intimidation.

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