Kochi: Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who was questioned by Kerala police for the second day over rape charges by a nun, has been temporarily relieved of his pastoral responsibilities by Pope Francis, the Catholic Bishop Conference of India (CBCI) said on Thursday.
The 54-year old Mulakkal was arrested by Kerala police after intense interrogation here over the last three days.
Mulakkal, the bishop of the Jalandhar diocese of the Missionaries of Jesus, the congregation to which the alleged victim also belongs, was grilled by the SIT headed by Dy SP K Subhash for seven hours on Wednesday.More news: Nick Ferrari Grills RBS Boss After NatWest Online Banking Went Down
The Kerala-based nun had accused the bishop of having sexually assaulted her repeatedly between 2014 and 2016 at a convent run by the Jalandhar diocese in Kottayam district.
There was no immediate comment from Bishop Franco Mulakkal or his lawyers - though he has denied the charges in interviews in the past.
He said the investigating officer was free to take a call on the issue. A plea of anticipatory bail moved by the bishop is set to come up for hearing before the High Court next week and that is also likely to be a factor to be considered by the police before taking any decision on his arrest.More news: South Africa Legalises Marijuana Use
On Wednesday, the Jalandhar Bishop was interrogated for almost seven hours since 11 in the morning. Top police sources said the sleuths have gathered key information, but want to verify it to build a foolproof case against the tainted bishop.
The officer refused to answer when asked whether the bishop would be arrested on Friday. On Thursday, activists staged a protest outside the Kerala Secretariat in Thiruvananthapuram, demanding that the priest be arrested. Mulakkal has rejected the allegations, calling them a conspiracy against the church.More news: Cyclops Firmino sets new Champions League record
While the cleric has been served a notice to appear before a probe team for interrogation on September 19, the investigation has already been stretched to over 70 days.