Bishop Franco Mulakkal was arrested and charged with rape of a nun in 2018Indian bishop’s rape trial enters final stage – UCA News
A file photo of Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar taken in 2017 (Photo: UCA News)
The trial of Indian Bishop Franco Mulakkal accused of raping a nun has entered its final stage with the court recording the testimonies of the investigating officials to be followed by their cross-examination.
“This process is set to be completed by the end of this month. The case will be posted for final argument in December and the order will be reserved,” said a government official who did not want to be named.
The trial had been expedited after the state High Court on Nov. 20 overruled a move to transfer the trial judge and allowed him to continue hearing the case until the pronouncement of the order, the official added.Donate to UCA News with a small contribution of your choice
Bishop Mulakkal of Jalandhar diocese in the northern Indian state of Punjab is accused of raping a former superior general of Missionaries of Jesus (MJ), a diocesan congregation under his patronage, between the years 2014-16.
On Nov. 12, the Kerala state government in consultation with the Kerala High Court transferred G Gopakumar, the trial judge to the post of vigilance inquiry commissioner and special judge in Thiruvananthapuram, the capital city of the southern state.
The transfer met with opposition from supporters of both the accused and the victim, who suspected a ploy to sabotage the ongoing hearings in the case.
“We suspected foul play in the transfer of the judge at this crucial juncture of the trial,” said Felix Pulludan, president of the Joint Christian Council.
Pulludan told UCA News on Nov. 24 that supporters of the victims wrote to the high court and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan to allow the judge to complete the trial, threatening public protests if the request was denied.
But the high court on Nov. 20 issued a separate order retaining the judge in the same court until completion of the trial of Bishop Mulakkal.
Mulakkal supporters too wanted the judge to continue and expressed the hope that the “prelate will come out clean from all the charges” against him.Related News-Supreme Court rejects rape-accused Indian bishop’s plea Indian bishop’s rape trial enters crucial stageDismissed Indian nun argues her case in courtIndian court allows dismissed nun to remain in convent
The court had listed 84 witnesses, including Cardinal George Alencherry, head of the Syro-Malabar Church, and a few other bishops, priests, nuns among others, but dropped nearly half of them as they presented identical evidence.
The special investigation team probing the case had filed a 2,000-page charge sheet against Bishop Mulakkal in April 2019. But he continues to hold the title of Jalandhar Bishop and remains in the bishop’s house despite the Vatican appointing an administrator to run the diocese.
Bishop Mulakkal maintains that the case stems from the nun’s personal vendetta against him for initiating disciplinary action against her violations of norms and financial misappropriation.