The SIT of Kerala Police probing the case of alleged rape of a nun by a bishop resumed questioning Bishop Franco Mulakkal on Thursday.
Hours after Mulakkal, accused of repeated rape and sexual assault, appeared before the Special Investigation Team for interrogation, DGP Loknath Behera said the investigating officer would decide his arrest once the questioning was over.
“After examining him only a decision will be taken. Investigating team is examining him. Let us wait. A decision will be definitely taken today or tomorrow after the interrogation,” Behera told reporters in Thiruvananthapuram.
When asked if Mulakkal can be arrested before September 25, the day his anticipatory bail plea will come up for hearing in the high court, the top police officer said, “I think, legally there is no problem. There is no such law (that bars arrest during pendency of bail plea). That we will discuss with the legal team.”
On Wednesday, the bishop was questioned for seven hours at the Crime Branch office. He was asked to return on Thursday for further questioning.
Accompanied by his counsel and a few priests, Mulakkal arrived at the Crime Branch office around 11 am, even as demands for his arrest grew.
He dodged a large media contingent waiting outside the hotel as he slipped away in a different car while the vehicle used on Wednesday was kept parked outside the hotel, where he stayed.
Inspector General Vijay Sakhre, Kottayam Superintendent Harishankar and his deputy K. Subhash held a meeting at the IG office in Kochi ahead of the interrogation.
The Kerala High Court has already agreed to hear Mulakkal’s anticipatory bail plea on September 25.
The nun has accused the senior Catholic priest of sexually assaulting her repeatedly between 2014 and 2016, allegations denied by the clergyman who has pleaded innocence.
An FIR was registered against the bishop and a 114-page detailed statement was taken from the nun and other inmates of the convent.
Meanwhile, the protest by various Catholic reform organisations and a group of nuns seeking Mulakkal’s arrest entered its 13th day Thursday.
The agitation at Kochi’s Vanchi Square is a spontaneous expression of outrage by these groups over the alleged assault of the nun.
A protesting nun said they were all waiting for the news of the arrest of the bishop so a strong message goes out to those who abuse women.
(With agency inputs)