Thiruvananthapuram, January 22: The prosecution which was in a state of shock when it heard a lower court acquitting Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal in the nun rape case, on Saturday decided to appeal the verdict at the Kerala High Court.
The special prosecutor in the case Jithesh Babu submitted the legal advice to this effect to the Kottayam SP, who will go forward in the appeal, as the time period for it is 90 days, from the date of the verdict which came from the Kottayam Additional district court judge G. Gopakumar on January 14, whose verdict enabled Franco to walk out free.
Incidentally, soon after the verdict came, the former Kottayam SP Harisankar, who oversaw the probe, said he was supremely confident that the verdict would be against the accused.
“This was the least expected as the witnesses did a very clean job. An appeal should be filed,” said Harisankar, then. 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, he 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 names 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 refused to do so and the trial began.
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