Indian bishop to be questioned for alleged rape of nun

Catholic nuns hold placards demanding the arrest of a bishop who one nun has accused of rape, during a public protest in Kochi, Kerala, India, on Sept. 12, 2018. (AP Photo)
Updated 13 September 2018
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Indian bishop to be questioned for alleged rape of nun

  • The nun first accused Mullackal in late June of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016
  • Bishop Franco Mullackal has called the whole scandal a conspiracy by those against the Church

NEW DELHI: Indian police on Wednesday summoned for questioning a bishop accused by a nun of raping her multiple times, following days of protests by other nuns and supporters.
Bishop Franco Mullackal, who has rejected the accusations, has been called for questioning in the southern state of Kerala on September 19, the Press Trust of India reported.
The nun first accused Mullackal in late June of raping her 13 times between 2014 and 2016, but police until now have stopped short of formally questioning him.
But pressure has been building on the authorities to investigate the claims.
Over recent days five nuns — in a rare show of dissent within the Indian Church — and dozens of supporters have been protesting in Kerala’s capital Thiruvananthapuram.
With media interest growing as well, the alleged victim has also approached the Vatican representative in India to press her case.
Her letter, leaked to Indian media, said Mullackal was “using political and money power to bury the case.”
Mullackal has called the whole scandal a conspiracy by those against the Church, and has won backing from his congregation at the Missionaries of Jesus Church.
Kerala’s High Court will be hearing the matter on Thursday, although the bishop was not expected to attend.
A local politician, P C George, has meanwhile made waves by calling the nun “a prostitute.”
“Twelve times she enjoyed it and the thirteenth time it is rape? Why didn’t she complain the first time?” media reports quoted him as saying.
Kerala is home to India’s largest Christian population and one of the oldest in the world.
In July, two priests were arrested for allegedly raping and blackmailing a woman for over 20 years in the state.
Sexual abuse by clergymen and the failure of senior Church officials to take action has been one of the biggest scandals facing the Catholic Church in recent years.
Pope Francis issued a letter on sexual abuse to the Catholics around the world in August, expressing the Church’s “shame and repentance.”
Christians — overwhelmingly Catholic — are the third-largest religious group in India. Around 80 percent of the country’s 1.25 billion population is Hindu, followed by a sizable Muslim minority.


Rights group documents fresh S.Sudan ‘war crimes’

Updated 26 min 59 sec ago
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Rights group documents fresh S.Sudan ‘war crimes’

NAIROBI: A rights group on Wednesday accused the government of South Sudan and its allied militias of carrying out “war crimes” of “staggering brutality” during an offensive earlier this year.
Amnesty International’s report, based on research following a government offensive on Leer and Mayendit counties in the northern Unity State between April and June, catalogued the testimonies of around 100 civilians who escaped the attacks.
“The offensive was characterised by staggering brutality, with civilians deliberately shot dead, burnt alive, hanged in trees and run over with armored vehicles,” Amnesty said.
The group also documented “systematic sexual violence,” rape and gang-rape as well as abductions of women and girls, and the deliberate killing of young boys and male infants.
The killings echo the type of brutality meted out to civilians that has characterised South Sudan’s war since the start.
Amnesty said the latest offensive began in April and continued until early July, “a week after the latest cease-fire was brokered on 27 June.”
That cease-fire paved the way for the signing last week of another peace agreement between President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar aimed at ending the vicious five-year-old civil war that has killed tens of thousands of people, pushed millions to the brink of starvation and scattered refugees across East Africa.

Battle for power

The battle for power between Kiir, a member of the Dinka tribe, and Machar, a Nuer, meant the conflict quickly took on an ethnic character with civilians targeted by both sides for massacre and widespread rape.
UN rights experts have warned of “ethnic cleansing” and the threat of genocide.
Amnesty blamed a failure to prosecute perpetrators for the continuing violence.
“The only way to break this vicious cycle of violence is to end the impunity enjoyed by South Sudanese fighters on all sides,” said Joanne Mariner, Amnesty’s senior crisis adviser.
In a rare example of justice, 10 soldiers were found guilty earlier this month of an attack on a hotel in the capital Juba in which five foreign aid workers were gang-raped and a South Sudanese journalist killed.
But commanders and their political masters are not held to account.
A so-called “hybrid court” to try war crimes and crimes against humanity, proposed by the African Union as part of a failed 2015 peace agreement, has not been set up.
South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, broke away from Sudan in 2011 after a long and bloody independence struggle, but just two years later the new war began triggering one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises.