Key witness in the Kerala nun rape case Father Kuriakose Kattuthara of Jalandhar Diocese was found dead under mysterious circumstances at his residence on Monday morning. The sexagenarian priest had in recent past given a statement against rape accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal.
Father Kuriakose had alleged that he had been tortured by Franco Mulakkal for filing a complaint.
Meanwhile, Father Kuriakose Kattuthara’s brother Jose Kattuthara has alleged to the local media that Kuriakose had confided that he had been getting death threats and the church officials had been tormenting him.
"I got a call between 10.30 and 11am this morning saying he has been found dead in his room. He had given a statement against Franco during the investigation. I am on my way to the police station in Alapuzzha to file a complaint," said Jose Kattuthara
As per reports, the priest had told his near ones about an incident of unidentified people pushing against his gate and loitering around his residence, but refused to lodge police complaint.
The deceased father had been transferred to Dasuya from Jalandhar after the nun rape case controversy but had still refused to retract his statement against Franco Mulakkal.
Speaking to Republic TV on this issue, Sister Anupama who has been leading the campaign against Franco Mulakkal said, ‘ the matter should be investigated and Father Kuriakose was transferred from the church to some other church by the missionary since he was supporting the victim even on TV shows openly. I feel very sorry for him and his family. Franco Mulakkal is such a person who is capable of doing such acts and police should investigate this.’
However, the nature of the priest’s death can be ascertained only after the post-mortem as he was also being treated for age-related ailments.
As per initial information, the priest did not come for the morning prayers, that’s when the when nuns started searching for him and later found him dead
AR Sharma, DSP Dasuya has said, "It was found that he vomited over the bed. Blood pressure tablets were found at the spot. Investigation is underway. No wounds were found on his body."
Meanwhile, the Jalandhar Dioces has issued a statement, wherein Bishop Franco Mulakkal and Bishop Agnelo Gracias have expressed sadness over the sudden demise of Fr. Kuriakose Kattuthara.
The rape accused, Bishop Franco Mulakkal was granted a conditional bail on October 15, following which he received a hero's welcome in Jalandhar on the very next day. This was the Bishop's second attempt to get the bail.
Earlier in September, his first attempt for bail was quashed by the court, and he was sent to judicial custody till October 6 by Pala Judicial Magistrate Court. Last week, further woe awaited Bishop Franco as a Kerala court extended his judicial custody till October 20.
The Bishop was arrested by the police on September 21, 87 days after a complaint was filed against him. It was preceded by three days of grilling by the Investigative agencies and a medical examination.
The bishop had denied all the charges against him by the rape survivor nun's allegations, who accused her of rape between 2014 and 2016, and remained elusive and vague during the course of interrogation.
After his arrest, nuns from the Missionaries of Jesus congregation in Jalandhar met Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan at his residence on Wednesday. In the meeting, the nuns expressed their unhappiness with SIT investigating the case, alleging that the SIT is biased.