A priest who had deposed before police against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal was found dead in Jalandhar on Monday morning, reported Mathrubhumi. Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, 60, was a prosecution witness against Mulakkal in the case. He had age-related ailments, but the cause of his death will be known only after the autopsy, the report said.
Kattuthara’s family has filed a complaint with police in Alappuzha, Kerala, to seek an inquiry into the death, according to ANI.
Kattuthara had given a statement to the Kerala Police against Mulakkal and had supported the nuns who were demanding the bishop’s arrest after one of them accused him of raping her several times between 2014 and 2016. He had earlier told Mathrubhumi that he was tortured by the Church officials for his stance, and had said he was under threat.
“The sisters had approached me complaining about Bishop Franco,” he had said in the interview. “They did not approach the Kerala police fearing the bishop. In fact, I fear what will happen to me for speaking out against him.”
Kattuthara’s brother Jose told Mathrubhumi that he was suspicious about the death.
Sister Anupama, who had led the protests in Kerala against Mulakkal,, told The News Minute: “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.”
In June, police filed charges against Mulakkal after a nun in the Missionaries of Jesus congregation accused him of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016 in Kottayam. The police arrested Mulakkal on September 21 after three days of questioning and almost three months after the first charges were filed in the case.
Mulakkal has repeatedly 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.