The Kerala Police interrogated Bishop Franco Mulakkal, who is accused of raping a nun, for over seven hours on Wednesday. The interrogation started around 11 am at Thrippunithura police station in Ernakulam district and ended at 6.30 pm.

Kottayam Superintendent of Police Harisankar told reporters in Tripunithura that Mulakkal is cooperating well and the next course of action will be decided after the interrogation comes to a close. “We sought replies for 104 questions today,” said Harisankar. “We will continue the interrogation tomorrow.”

A five-member team led by Vaikom Deputy Superintendent of Police K Subhash is leading the interrogation, according to ANI. Earlier in the day, Subhash met Kochi Range Inspector General Vijay Sakhare. They were joined by Harisankar.

Security was intensified at the police station after people gathered outside and blocked a road in protest against alleged police inaction in the case, reported the Hindustan Times.

As Mulakkal left the Crime Branch office after interrogation, a group of workers of the All India Youth Federation protested outside and waved black flags at him.

This is the second time Mulakkal is being questioned. Subhash had questioned Mulakkal on August 13 in Punjab’s Jalandhar city. “The arrest will depend on the outcome of the questioning and evidences,” Malayala Manorama quoted Harisankar as saying.

The police had earlier said there were contradictions in the statements given by the complainant, witnesses and the bishop. Subhash will lead the first phase of the interrogation.

On Tuesday, the Kerala High Court deferred hearing Mulakkal’s anticipatory bail plea to September 25. In his bail plea, Mulakkal claimed the allegations of rape were false and accused the complainant of “personal vengeance” against him.

On Monday, Mulakkal wrote a letter to Pope Francis, seeking permission to temporarily step down from his responsibilities at the Jalandhar Diocese.

The case

In June, the police filed charges against Mulakkal after the nun in the Missionaries of Jesus congregation filed a complaint accusing him of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 in Kottayam. She said she had no choice but to go to the police after church authorities ignored her complaints and took no action against the bishop.

Mulakkal has denied the charges and accused the nun of taking revenge on him for ordering an inquiry into a complaint against her. He filed a complaint against the complainant and five other nuns, accusing them of framing him.