Soon after the prime witness in the case of a Kerala nun's rape was reported dead on Monday, the convener of the the Save Our Nuns Action Council, which had organised the unprecedented protests by nuns in Ernakulam seeking the arrest of rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, said his bail must be revoked. Father Augustine Vattoli told Firstpost that this was the primary reason why they had opposed Mulakkal being granted bail.
Father Kuriakose Kattuthara was found dead in his room at his church at Bhogpur in Jalandhar at 10 am on Monday. He had testified against Mulakkal in the rape case and had also played an active role in the agitation by five nuns at Ernakulam's Vanji Circle demanding Mulakkal's arrest.
"We had expected retaliation. Father Kattuthara regularly told us that he was facing threat calls," Father Vattoli told Firstpost. "This is all the more reason to immediately revoke Mulakkal’s bail."
After news of Father Kattuthara's death broke, Father Vattoli led a delegation to the Kerala Chief Minister's Office to insist that the government take action in the matter at the earliest. “If they don’t, Mulakkal is going to continue his attempts to cover up the crime.”
Mulakkal was arrested on 21 September on the Kerala nun's complaint that the priest from the Jalandhar diocese he had raped her at least 13 times between 2014 and 2016. He was released from a sub-jail near Kottayam on 17 October, a day after the Kerala High Court granted him bail. He had received a rousing welcome from his supporters on reaching Jalandhar after his release.
Father Kattuthara's sister-in-law told CNN-News18 that he had been receiving threats from Mulakkal and his associates since he publicly came out in support of the nun who accused him of rape. The nuns from Kerala had initially approached Father Kattuthara for his help in the matter, after which he facilitated the process to file the complaint in the case.
She said that Father Kattuthara had mentioned multiple times that he was under a lot of pressure from his congregation to either withdraw support to the nuns' agitation, or to stay silent, adding that the family suspects foul play in his death and have filed a police complaint. They are awaiting details of his autopsy to ascertain the cause of death.
When contacted, the office of the Behra Director General of Police said they are awaiting details at the moment and refused to comment further.
Updated Date: Oct 22, 2018 13:31:57 IST