Kerala Police questions rape-accused bishop for 7 hours

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Kochi (Kerala) : Kerala Police on Wednesday questioned Bishop Franco Mulakkal accused of raping a nun for seven hours and asked him to report back on Thursday morning, said a police official.

The bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese in Jalandhar, accompanied by his counsel and a few priests, arrived in a car around 11 a.m to the Crime Branch office in Tripunithura near here.

Around 6.30 p.m, the bishop was allowed to leave for the day.

Addressing the media soon after the bishop left, Kottayam Superindent of Police Harishankar said the first phase of interrogation is over.

"He has been served a notice to appear before the probe team tomorrow (Thursday) at 11 a.m here. He is cooperating with us. Since the questioning is going on, at the moment, we won't be unable to share what the bishop had to say," said Harishankar.

Ahead of the questioning in the morning, top police officers -- Inspector General of Police Vijay Sakhre, Kottayam SP Harishankar and his deputy K. Subhash -- held a meeting at the IGP office in Kochi.

"We are under no pressure. We have conducted a detailed probe which was spread across five states. There is no directive that the bishop should not be arrested," said Harishankar.

The police ensured that the media could not get close to him or even take his picture.

According to them, Tripunithura on the outskirts of Kochi was chosen as the venue to avoid the protests underway in Kochi for the last 12 days.

The bishop on Tuesday got a relief from the Kerala High Court which agreed to hear his anticipatory bail plea on September 25.

The court also asked the state government to file an affidavit.

A Kerala nun has accused Mulakkal of repeatedly sexually abusing her between 2014 and 2016.

An FIR was registered against the bishop and a 114-page detailed statement was taken from the nun and other inmates of the convent.

Earlier, Mulakkal was questioned by the police team led by Dy.SP Subhash in August at his Jalandhar office.