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Chargsheet against Franco submitted

The police team probing the rape charges against Bishop Franco Mulakkal on Tuesday submitted the chargesheet in the case.

Investigating officer and Deputy Superintendent of Police, Vaikom, K. Subash submitted the chargesheet before the Judicial First Class Magistrate, Pala, in the afternoon.

The detailed chargesheet with statements and documents run to over 2,000 pages and include five volumes. There are a total number of 83 witnesses in the case. Among the witnesses include Major Archbishop Cardinal George Alencherry, Bishop Joseph Kallarangatt of Pala diocese, Bhagalpur Bishop Kurian Valiyakandathil and Bishop Sebastian Vadakkel of the diocese of Ujjain. There are also 25 nuns and 11 priests as witnesses.

The statements of the most crucial 10 witnesses were recorded by magistrates. The seven magistrates, who recorded the statements of witnesses will also turn up as witnesses in the case. Along with the chargesheet, 101 documents related to the case will also be submitted before court.

The bishop has been arraigned as an accused in the case under IPC Sections 342 (wrongful confinement), 376 (2k) (rape on a woman incapable of giving consent), 376 (2n) (causing grievous bodily harm during rape), 376 (c) (a) 377 (unnatural offence), 506 (1) (criminal intimidation). If proved guilty, the bishop may get a punishment of life imprisonment or a minimum imprisonment of not less than 10 years.

To prevent the witnesses turning hostile, the statements of all witnesses have been videographed. Further, a detailed reference of all the evidences found against the accused during the investigation of the case was also submitted in a report along with the chargesheet.

The court is slated to issue summons to the bishop after verifying the chargesheet. Since the charges against the accused entail a punishment of more than 10 years, the case will be committed to the Principal Sessions Court in Kottayam within a month or two, said Special Prosecutor Jithesh J. Babu.

Bishop Franco was taken into police custody on September 21 last year after being subjected to intense grilling for about two days.

Source: thehindu.com

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