New Delhi: Jose Kurian, brother of the deceased priest who had given a statement against Bishop Franco Mulakkal, on Monday said Father Kuriakose Kattuthara's death was not natural but a pre-planned murder.
Kurian said that the father was repeatedly threatened by people close to the Bishop accused of raping a Kerala nun. He also questioned the timing, pointing out that it came just six days after Mulakkal was granted bail by the Kerala High Court.
"I think it is a pre-planned murder. Father Kuriakose Kattuthara had said that his life was under threat. An investigation should be conducted into his death. All witnesses should be given police protection," his brother said.
In a letter to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, Kurian said that during the course of investigation, his elder brother was repeatedly threatened and his car was also damaged. "On several occasions, people pelted stones at the Father's house in Jalandhar and complaints related to such incidents were filed with Punjab police," he stated.
Brother of the 62-year-old priest of the Jalandhar diocese further claimed that there was "deliberate attempt" by the accused Bishop, his relatives and associates to persuade the witness of the case to change his stand through "undue influence or threat".
Kurian, who is based in Kerala, said that he spoke to father Kattuthara three days ago and his brother told him that he was "facing threats and other hooliganism from the associates of the Bishop and he feared his life".
"Under these circumstances, I along with my family members have strong suspicion regarding the sudden and mysterious death of my brother," he said, requesting the chief minister to intervene in the matter and take legal action.
Kattuthara, who had filed a complaint against rape-accused Bishop Franco Mulakkal, was found dead on Monday morning. Police said the cause of the death would be known after postmortem.
According to officers, no visible injury marks were found on the body. There was vomit in the room, said Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) A R Sharma. The viscera will be sent for examination which will throw light on the cause of the death, the DSP said.
Father Kuriakose was transferred 15 days back to the church at Dasuya, police said. He was staying in the premises of the St Paul's church.