A pedestrian walks past a church. (Photographer: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg)

Witness Against Bishop Franco Mulakkal In Nun Rape Case Found Dead

Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, who was a witness in the rape case filed by a nun against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, was found dead today. The police said he was found dead under “mysterious circumstances” in Dasuya in Punjab’s Hoshairpur district.

The 62-year-old was found unconscious in his room this morning and was taken to a local hospital where he was declared dead on arrival. Police said the cause of death would be known after postmortem.

According to police, no visible injury marks were found on the body. There was vomit in the room, said the Deputy Superintendent of Police AR Sharma.

The viscera will be sent for examination which will throw light on the cause of the death, the DSP said. Father Kattuthara was transferred to the church at Dasuya 15 days ago, police said. He was staying in the premise of the church.

When contacted, the Deputy Commissioner of Hoshiarpur, Esha Kalia, said the police was investigating the matter.

Relatives of the priest in Kerala said Kattuthara was concerned about his safety after coming out openly against the bishop. The relatives are also demanding a thorough probe into the death. They also want the postmortem to be conducted at the Alappuzha Medical College.

In a complaint to the Kottayam Police in June, a nun had alleged that Bishop Mulakkal raped her at a guest house in Kuravilangad in May 2014 and later sexually exploited her on several occasions. However, Mulakkal has denied the charges as “baseless and concocted,” insisting she leveled those as the Catholic order had rejected her demand for favours.

Bishop Mulakkal had received a rousing welcome from his followers and supporters when he reached Jalandhar after being released on bail by a Kerala court last week. Last month, he stepped aside as the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese.

Supporters of the victimised nun today urged the Kerala government to provide security to the complainant in view of the alleged “mysterious death” of a key witness in the case.