New Indian Express [Chennai, India]
January 11, 2022
By Express News Service
The additional district and sessions court in Kottayam on Monday completed the trial in the rape case filed by a nun against former bishop of Jalandhar diocese Franco Mulakkal. The court is likely to pronounce the judgment at its next hearing on January 14.
As per the prosecution, Franco raped the nun on several occasions at the St Francis Convent at Nadukunnu in Kuravilangad, and forced her to perform unnatural sex. The 2,000-page chargesheet in three volumes was submitted on April 4. The trial began in November 2019, but got delayed owing to various reasons ncluding the lockdown.
At the same time, the trial was done in-camera and the media was prevented from reporting the details of the trial as per the request of Franco’s counsel. Of the 83 witnesses listed by the prosecution, 39 were examined during the trial. They included Major Archbishop Cardinal George Alencherry, Bhagalpur Bishop Kurian Valiyakandathil, Bishop Sebastian Vadakkel of Ujjain diocese and nuns.
Legal experts said this could be the first instance in the history of Indian judiciary that a cardinal and major archbishop of the Catholic Church as well as bishops were examined as a witness in a rape case. In a major achievement for the prosecution, none of the witness turned hostile.
The nun who filed the case against Bishop Franco was examined and cross-examined for a total of 13 days. If found guilty, Franco may get life imprisonment or a minimum imprisonment of not less than 10 years.