New Delhi: Father Kuriakose Kattuthara, a priest of the Jalandhar diocese who was a witness in the rape case filed by a nun against Bishop Franko Mulakkal, was found dead on Monday.
His family has raised suspicions and has filed a police complaint with the superintendent in Alappuzha, Kerala. They suspect foul play in the death and have demanded that the postmortem be done only in their presence at the medical college in the town.
Speaking to News18, Kattuthara’s Kerala-based brother, Jose Kattuthara, said that he had received a call from Father Michael Annikuzhikatil in Jalandhar informing him about his brother’s death. “We have serious doubts over his death and believe that he was killed,” he said.
According to the family, they received a call around 11am on Monday and were told that Kuriakose, 62, had died on Friday night. The delay in informing them about the death, the family further said, has added to their suspicion.
He has also written a letter to Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan, asking him to intervene in the case. He said that the priest had faced repeated threats in the last few days and feared for his life.
Police said the cause of the death would be known after postmortem. According to police, 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 Peter from Jalandhar diocese told News18, “Today in the morning at 10, he didn’t wake up, so the sisters went and checked on him. When he didn’t open the door, they called for help. The door was then broken and Kuriakose was found unconscious and there was vomit in the room. We took him to the hospital, where he was declared brought dead.”
Ruling out foul play in Kuriakose’s death, Father Peter said that the reason for the family’s suspicion was his statement against Mulakkal. “We are not enemies, we are all good friends,” he said.
Father Kuriakose was transferred 15 days back to the church at Dasuya, police said. He was staying in the premises of the church. He had testified against Bishop Mulakkal, who is facing allegations of raping a nun.
He had, in an interview to Mathrubhumi, said that he feared for his life. Father Kuriakose had supported the Missionaries of Jesus nun who accused Bishop Franko Mulakkal of rape. He had said that he was constantly threatened by church officials because of his support for the nun.
Roman Catholic bishop Mulakkal was granted conditional bail by the Kerala High Court last week. He was arrested on September 21 after being accused of repeatedly raping and sexually abusing a nun between 2014 and 2016. As he reached Jalandhar after release, he received a rousing welcome from his supporters.