Priest Who Gave Statement Against Rape-Accused Bishop Found Dead

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Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, 60, was found dead in his room in a church in Punjab.

Jalandhar:

A priest who had given a statement against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, the catholic priest accused of raping a Kerala nun, was found dead in Punjab this morning.

Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, 60, was found dead in his room at St Paul's church. A police officer said no injury was found but there were signs he had vomited. Blood pressure medicine was also found near him.

Father Kuriakose's family members allege that the death is suspicious.

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Franco Mulakkal, a senior priest accused of repeatedly raping a nun between 2013 and 2o16, was released from a prison in Kerala on bail last week. He was welcomed by his supporters with rose petals and garlanded when he arrived in Jalandhar.

The nun, in a complaint in June, alleged that she was raped by Franco Mulakkal 13 times, during his visits to a convent in Kottayam. The bishop has denied the charges.

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Father Kuriakose Kattuthara's family members allege that the death is suspicious.

Franco Mulakkal was stripped of his pastoral duties at the Jalandhar diocese of the Missionaries of Jesus by the Vatican. He was arrested last month and spent three weeks in a jail near Kottayam before being let out on conditional bail.

The investigating officer of the case, DYSP Subhash told NDTV: "Father Kuriakose was a witness but did not have any pivotal role in the case. He was one of the priests we questioned and is among the five-six priests who mentioned that they were aware of the allegations against Bishop Franco."

Father Kuriakose was quoted recently by Mathrubhumi as saying that he had been threatened and he "feared what would happen if he spoke out against Bishop Franco Mulakkal".

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