Indian court acquits Roman Catholic bishop accused of raping nun

KOCHI, India (Reuters) – An Indian court on Friday acquitted a Roman Catholic bishop accused of repeatedly raping a nun over two years in the country’s southern state of Kerala.

“Praise the Lord”, Franco Mulakkal, who spent 25 days in police custody after his arrest https://www.Reuters.com/article/india-church-idINKCN1M12CJ in September 2018, exclaimed after his acquittal by Judge G Gopakumar in Kerala. City of Kottayam.

Investigator in charge of the case, S Harishankar, later said authorities would appeal the verdict.

Sister Anupama, who had campaigned for the bishop’s arrest, said she and her sisters were surprised at his acquittal.

Mulakkal, 57, was ordained a priest in 1990 in the northern Indian state of Punjab and was elevated to the rank of bishop of Jalandhar diocese eight years ago.

Jalandhar Diocese spokesman Peter Kavumpuram said Mulakkal’s acquittal proved his innocence.

As protests and calls for his arrest grew in 2018, Mulakkal asked the Vatican to allow him to step down temporarily. The Vatican had accepted his request.

Mulakkal would not resume his duties, Kavumpuram said.

(Reporting by Jose Devasia; Writing by Mayank Bhardwaj; Editing by Alex Richardson)

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