An Additional Sessions Court in Kerala gave its decision in the sexual assault case of 2018 involving the former Roman Catholic Bishop of the Jalandhar diocese on January 14, 2022.
The court acquitted Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was accused of raping a nun multiple times in the convent he visited between 2014 and 2016, and the decision has not been taken well by the supporters of the survivor. The trial has been going on since November 2019. The face of this long battle against Bishop Mulakkal, Sister Anupama said they will challenge the verdict.
Bishop Mulakkal Acquitted, Nuns Decide To Appeal The Higher Court:
The Bishop had been arrested and was charged for rape, wrongful confinement, unnatural sex, and criminal intimidation by the Special Investigative Team(SIT).
The 57-year-old Bishop was given the acquittal by the court of the judge G Gopalakumar, as the prosecution failed to produce any evidence against the accused. In the pictures release after the hearing, Mulakkal seemed to be quite relieved and burst into tears and hugged his followers and lawyers showing his happiness on hearing the verdict of the court.
The Jalandhar diocese also thanked their followers for the belief in the innocence of the Bishop and providing with necessary legal assistance, in a statement issued by them soon after the verdict.
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The rape survivor and supporters who stayed in the Kuravilangad convent in the southern Kerala district were in utter shock after the verdict. As per the reports by NDTV, they said they were not able to believe that such a verdict came out from the court and they did not know what has happened. Sister Anupama assured of challenging the verdict in the higher court of the state and taking the cause of justice for their colleague forward.
B Raman Pillai, the criminal lawyer who led the legal team of Bishop said in an interview with PTI, “Even if they go for appeal, there is no tension as the prosecution charge against the Bishop is false”.
The senior IPS officer who led the SIT, in this case, expressed his astonishment and said “100% conviction was expected in this case” and described the verdict as unfortunate and unnatural.
In the entire procedure for the judgment in the last few years, reportedly 39 witnesses had given the statement supporting prosecution without anyone turning hostile.
The Chairperson for National Commission for Women (NCW), Rekha Prasad, was also shocked at the judgment. She took to her social media and wrote, ” Shocked at the judgment of Kerala Additional district and session court. The Victim Nun must go to the high court. NCW is with her in this fight for justice.”