MUMBAI, India – A bishop accused of raping a nun in India has tested positive for COVID-19, putting a court appearance scheduled in August in doubt.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal of Jalandhar, in the state of Punjab, was tested on Monday and received his results on Tuesday. The bishop had already been quarantined after his lawyer had tested positive for COVID-19 on July 3.
Mulakkal was arrested on Sept. 21, 2018, in Kerala after a months-long investigation into the accusations of a nun claiming he raped her 13 times between 2014 and 2016. He denies the accusations.
The nun is a member of the Punjab-based Missionaries of Jesus congregation, but said the attacks happened in Kuravilangad, the location of one of the order’s convents in Kerala.
He was released on bail on Oct. 15, 2018 and returned to Punjab state.
His trial has been delayed on several occasions; the latest postponement was due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
On Monday, the court in Kerala ordered that he appear on August 13 to be arrested, although current COVID-19 protocols in India forbid people with the coronavirus from travelling.
His arrest was ordered after he didn’t appear for a July 1 court hearing, claiming that Jalandhar was located in a containment zone. However, Mulakkal’s residence was outside the zone in the city.
Sister Lucy Kalapura, who has been a vocal advocate for the nun making the accusations against the bishop, said was “very glad” the bishop’s bail had been cancelled.
“We, the people, eagerly waiting the arrest of him the very next day, not after one month,” she told Crux.
“He will be punished after the trial, we hope,” she said.