Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, one of the few who had vociferously spoken against bishop Franco Mulakkal accused of raping a nun at Kottayam in Kerala, was found dead at the St. Mary’s Church in Dasuya, Jalandhar on Monday morning. The 67-year-old priest’s family suspect a conspiracy behind his death even as the exact cause of the death is still not known.
"It was found that he vomited over the bed. Blood pressure tablets were found at the spot. Investigation is underway. In our notice, no security was provided to him," said AR Sharma, DSP of Dasuya as quoted by ANI.
It was found that he vomited over the bed. Blood pressure tablets were found at the spot. Investigation is underway. In our notice, no security was provided to him: AR Sharma, DSP Dasuya, on Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, witness in Kerala nun rape case, found dead pic.twitter.com/wot6nzxRwU— ANI (@ANI) October 22, 2018
Father Kuriakose had given a statement against bishop Mulakkal to the Kerala Police. According to The News Minute, Sister Anupama, who had led the protests against Bishop Franco said, “We are very shocked to hear this news. Father Kuriakose has taught me and he was part of our parish as well. He was a crucial witness in our case as he had given statements against Bishop Franco to the police. I haven’t been in touch with him but I had heard from other priests that he had been facing a lot of pressure of late, with many in the church pointing fingers at him. We feel the circumstances of his death are suspicious and may affect our case against Bishop Franco.”
Mulakkal is accused of repeatedly raping and sexually assaulting a nun between 2014 and 2016 during his visits to a convent in Kottayam. The Kerala High Court had granted bail to the 54-year-old Catholic priest on October 15 on conditions that he does not come to Kerala except for appearing before the probe officer once in two weeks on Saturdays, and should surrender his passport before the court. This condition would be applicable till a charge sheet is filed in the case. He was released from jail on Tuesday.
In her complaint to the Kottayam Police in June, the 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.
The nun said she had to approach the police as the church authorities did not act on her repeated complaints against the clergyman. However, the bishop has denied the charges as “baseless and concocted,” insisting she levelled those as the Catholic order had rejected her demand for favours.