Investigation team unfazed by pressure

Subjects bishop to rigorous questioning for three days before deciding to arrest him

Updated - September 22, 2018 12:56 am IST

Published - September 21, 2018 11:11 pm IST - KOCHI

The Special Investigation Team probing the rape of a nun belonging to the Missionaries of Jesus congregation had to face heavy public onslaught, even as they refused to be rushed in their pursuit of clinching evidence before arresting Bishop Franco Mulakkal late Friday night.

The investigation team was under duress with an ongoing sit-in by five nuns of the congregation demanding the arrest of the bishop when it began interrogating for the second time on Wednesday. Rumour was rife from day one about his imminent arrest but the team took its time to verify the veracity of statements made by the bishop over three days at the Crime Branch office at Thripunithura.

In Jalandhar first

The investigation team led by K. Subhash, Dy.SP, Vaikom, had first interrogated the bishop for over nine hours in Jalandhar on August 13. The second round of investigation started here on Wednesday when he was subjected to over seven hours of rigorous questioning followed by over eight-and-a-half hours of further grilling on Thursday. The decision to arrest him came after eight more hours of interrogation on Friday.

While the arrest was widely speculated on Thursday, the bishop was yet again allowed to leave at the end of the interrogation as Mr. Sanker said the interrogation was inconclusive and that a decision regarding arrest could not be made. Meanwhile, Pope Francis allowed bishop Franco to step down as head of the Jalandhar diocese, after it became clear that he would be spending a substantial amount of time in Kerala fighting the case.

The case against the bishop was registered by the Kuravilangad police on June 28, a day after the nun met the police chief with a complaint that the bishop had raped her multiple times at the Kuravilangad convent. This was five days after the Kuravilangad police registered a case against the brother of the nun on a petition filed on behalf of the bishop by the PRO of the Jalandhar diocese.

Kottayam SP handed over both cases to Vaikom Dy.SP on June 29 following which the investigation gathered momentum.

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