Bishop Franco Mulakkal has expressed “sadness” over the sudden demise of Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, a statement released by Jalandhar Diocese said on Monday.

“His sudden death has left a big sorrow to the Jalandhar presbyterium and religious men and women and people of God. Hearty Condolences,” the statement read.

Father Kuriakose, a key witness in the Kerala nun rape case and one of the few people known for vociferously speaking against accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, was found dead on Monday morning in his personal room in St. Mary’s Church in Jalandhar’s Dasuya.

Read | Kerala nun rape | Father Kuriakose, key witness against Bishop Franco, found dead in Jalandhar

According to an ANI report, there were signs that Father Kuriakose had vomited over his bed.

AR Sharma, DSP Dasuya said blood pressure tablets were found at the spot.

Meanwhile, family members of Father Kuriakose have alleged foul play in his death.

Sister Anupama, who led the nuns’ protest against Mulakkal, also called Kattuthara’s death “mysterious” and said “it needs to be investigated thoroughly”, a report stated.

Father Kuriakose Kattuthara had testified against Bishop Franco Mulakkal when questioned by the Kerala Police.

Father Kattuthara had also supported the protest several nuns had staged against rape accused bishop.

He had alleged that Bishop Franco had tried to scuttle the case. He also said that several nuns had approached him with complaints against the bishop.

It is alleged that the priest had been receiving death threats and that the church officials were tormenting him ever since he testified against the bishop. His family also claimed that his vehicle was vandalised and his house pelted with stones after the incident.

Father Kuriakose Kattuthara has served in the Diocese of Jalandhar in various capacities as Parish Priest, Professor, Director, Chaplin to convents etc. He was instrumental in preparing the Punjabi Missal for the local church.

Bishop Franco Mulakkal was arrested in Kochi on September 21 after he was accused of repeatedly sexually abusing a nun between 2014 and 2016.

The action came after a nun complained that she was raped 13 times between 2014-16. The crime had occurred at a convent in Kottayam district.

(With agency inputs)