The Additional District Sessions Court here on Saturday extended the bail granted to bishop Franco Mulakkal in a nun rape case and posted the case for further hearing to January 6.
Marking the commencement of the trial proceedings in the case, the bishop appeared before judge G. Gopakumar here on Saturday following a summons to appear for preliminary hearing. Alongside extending the bail, the court also permitted the defence counsel to substitute the existing bail bondsmen with the bishops brother and a nephew.
Meanwhile, special public prosecutor Jithesh J. Babu officially handed over his order of appointment to the court. The case has now been posted for a preliminary hearing on the charges on January 6 and after hearing both the defence and the prosecution, the court will frame its charges against the accused bishop.
Though the investigation team had submitted the chargesheet in the Judicial First Class Magistrate Court, Pala, on April 9 this year, the case was committed to the Principal Sessions Court, Kottayam, which, in turn, transferred it to the Additional District Sessions Court 1. The accused can get life imprisonment or imprisonment of not less than 10 years if found guilty.
As per the prosecution, bishop Franco had raped the nun and forced her to unnatural sex on many occasions between 2014 and 2017. The bishop has been arraigned as an accused in the case under Indian Penal Code 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).