Kerala nun rape case: Ex-bishop Franco Mulakkal in court as trial begins

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The trial in the Kerala nun sexual assault case began at the additional district sessions court in Kottayam on Wednesday even as the court restrained the media from publishing any matter relating to the in-camera proceedings.

The lone accused in the case, former bishop of Jalandhar, Franco Mulakkal, appeared before the court. The court has barred media coverage after Mulakkal moved an application. The order was passed after Mulakkal said the prosecution had leaked to the media a statement given by one of the main witnesses earlier.

Last month, the Supreme Court had dismissed a plea filed by Mulakkal seeking discharge from the case. Earlier, the trial court and high court had also rejected his plea observing that there was prima facie evidence to put the case to the trail.

The assault case surfaced in 2018 after a 43-year-old nun complained to the police in Kottayam that Mulakkal had raped her several times between 2014 and 2016. The nun is a member of the missionaries of Jesus congregation of Roman Catholic Church based in Punjab. But Mulakkal denied it saying he was implicated after he took action against her for financial irregularities in the convent.

Later, a special investigation team was constituted which arrested Mulakkal in September 2018. After spending 40 days in jail, he was granted bail. He was also removed from the post of the bishop later. There were many attempts to delay the trail.

The special investigation team had filed the charge sheet against Mulakkal last year but he failed to appear before the court several times. Later, the trial court issued an arrest warrant against him. But his bail was not cancelled after he gave an assurance that he will be present throughout the hearing.

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