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In an alleged ploy to delay the trial, former Jalandhar Bishop Franco Mulakkal, accused of sexually assaulting a nun between 2014 and 2016, filed a discharge petition in a court, here on Saturday, claiming to be innocent.

Mulakkal, who is on bail, filed the petition in the Kottayam additional district sessions court, which had denied his January 6 plea seeking more time. The court posted Mulakkal’s fresh petition for February 4.

Mulakkal’s ploy is to delay the trial by approaching a higher court if his discharge petition is dismissed on February 4.

Mulakkal, arrested on September 21, 2018, on rape charges, got bail on October 16, 2018. The Kerala Police has filed a 1,400-page charge-sheet against him.

The charge-sheet names 83 witnesses, including Cardinal of the Syro-Malabar Catholic Church Mar George Alencherry, three bishops, 11 priests and many nuns.

After the case came to light, Mulakkal was removed as head of the Jalandhar diocese.

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