Indian police are investigating the death of a witness in a case involving the alleged rape of a nun by a Roman Catholic bishop, after the body of the witness, a priest who had given a statement to police against the bishop, was found on Monday.
The death comes as India’s Christian community is reeling from a string of cases – including the arrests of five priests in August on allegations of s3xual assault.
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Police said the body of Kuriakose Kattuthara, a Catholic priest who police said had spoken to them about Bishop Franco Mulakkal, was found in his room in a church in the northern state of Punjab.
“There were no blood marks on his body, and we are investigating the cause of death,” said Achhru Ram, a senior Punjab state police official in the Dasuya region.
Mulakkal, bishop of the Diocese of Jalandhar in Punjab, was arrested in the southern state of Kerala last month on charges of raping the nun.
The Kerala nun had accused him of raping her repeatedly over a period of two years. Just before his arrest, the Vatican had accepted a request from the bishop to be temporarily relieved of his pastoral duties.
He is now on bail.
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