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A Catholic priest who had given a statement against Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of raping a nun multiple times, has been found dead in Jalandhar under mysterious circumstances.
Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, 62, was found dead in a room at the St. Mary's Church complex in Dasuya town, around 180 km from Jalandhar.
Kattuthara was under the Jalandhar diocese which is headed by Mulakkal.
“It was found that he vomited over the bed. Blood pressure tablets were found at the spot,” said AR Sharma, DSP Dasuya. "Our team has gone to the spot and is investigating the matter," he added.
According to the media reports, Father Kuriakose had given a statement against Bishop Franco Mulakkal to the Kerala police in the rape case of a nun from Missionaries of Jesus. The priest's brother, Jose Kattuthara, told Mathrubhumi that he was suspicious about his brother’s death, and alleged that Kuriakose had been killed for giving a statement against Bishop Franco Mulakkal in the rape case.
The report added that Father Kuriakose had earlier alleged that he was under severe pressure by church officials for his support to the nun who has accused Franco of rape. In an interview to Mathrubhumi, Fr Kuriakose had said, “The sisters had approached me complaining about Bishop Franco. They did not approach the Kerala police fearing the bishop. In fact, I fear what will happen to me for speaking out against him."
The death of the priest comes a week after Bishop Franco Mulakkal was granted conditional bail by the Kerala high court in the nun rape case.
The case against Bishop Franco Mulakkal
In June, a 43-year-old nun, also a mother superior, had complained to the police that Mulakkal, 54, had raped her 13 times between 2014 and 2016. The nun is a member of the Missionaries of Jesus congregation based in Punjab which runs two convents in Kerala.
The nun said she had approached the police as the Church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints against the clergyman. After registering her complaint with the Kottayam police in June, Bishop Mulakkal was arrested on September 21 amid mounting public outrage over allegations of repeatedly raping a nun.
Mulakkal, however, dismissed the allegations as "baseless and concocted", insisting she levelled those as the Catholic order had rejected her demand for favours.
Franco Mulakkal was granted a conditional bail by the Kerala high court
On October 16, rape accused bishop Franco Mulakkal was released from the jail after Kerala high court granted him conditional bail.
The bail was issued on conditions, including asking the bishop not to enter Kerala after his release from the sub-jail in Kottayam and to surrender his passport. Bishop Franco Mulakkal was also asked to present himself before the police every fortnight. He was also asked to appear before the probe officials as and when requested by them.