Bishop acquitted in sexual assault of nun
NEW DELHI — An Indian court Friday acquitted a Catholic bishop of charges of raping a nun in her rural convent, a case that became a big issue amid allegations of sexual harassment in the church.
Sessions Judge G. Gopakumar in a brief order said the bishop was innocent of charges that he repeatedly raped the nun between 2014 and 2016.
Bishop Franco Mulakkal was present in the court in Kottayam, a southern Indian city. Supporters cheered and chanted “Praise the Lord” as he left the court.
The prosecution, representing the nun, will appeal the verdict, said lawyer Sandhya Raju.
Virginia Saldanha, former executive secretary of the Commission for Women of the Catholic Bishops Conference of India, said she was shocked by the verdict. “My first thought was that misogyny in the church has won. The verdict reinforces the idea that a powerful man can’t be brought to justice,” she said.
Police charged Mulakkal with rape, illegal confinement and intimidation of the nun. She said she went to police only after complaining repeatedly to church authorities. Eventually, a group of nuns launched unprecedented public protests to demand Mulakkal’s arrest in 2018. He was detained but released on bail after a few weeks.
Mulakkal was the official patron of the nun’s community, the Missionaries of Jesus, and wielded influence over its budgets and job assignments.
Mulakkal denied the accusations, calling them “baseless and concocted,” and saying the accusing nun tried to pressure him to get a better job.
Pakistan army post attack kills soldier
ISLAMABAD — Militants attacked an army post Friday in Pakistan’s northwest bordering Afghanistan, triggering a shootout that killed a soldier, the military said. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
According to a military statement, the predawn attack took place in Bannu, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It said troops returned fire, but it was unclear if the attackers suffered any casualties.
In their claim of responsibility posted on Twitter, the Pakistani Taliban did not provide details.
Also Friday, Pakistani troops raided a militant hide-out in the northwestern town of Miran Shah, killing a militant and arresting two suspects, a military statement said.
Although militants often target security posts and troops routinely carry out raids on militant hide-outs, the latest violence comes a day after the Pakistani Taliban confirmed the killing of the group’s former spokesman last weekend in Afghanistan. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan vowed to avenge his killing.
Taiwan adds minelayers to navy fleet
KAOHSIUNG, Taiwan — Taiwan on Friday commissioned new navy minelayers to add to its defenses against China.
President Tsai Ing-wen presided over a commissioning ceremony for the navy’s First and Second Mining Operations Squadrons, which will operate ships able to automatically sow large numbers of small but powerful mines at high speed without the need for divers.
Such technologies are part of a strategy to deter any possible invasion from China, with its large army and superior numbers of warplanes, ships and other weaponry.
The initial order of four ships manufactured by Lungteh Shipbuilding is part of a drive by Tsai to revitalize the domestic arms industry and reduce Taiwan’s dependence on the United States for defensive weapons.
The automatic mine-laying system was developed by Taiwan’s Chung Shan Institute of Science and Technology.
The ships give the navy “even stronger power in protecting our waters,” Tsai said at the ceremony. Their commissioning “demonstrated the fruits of the indigenous defense industry and showed the world our determination to defend our country,” she said.
Chinese official faces corruption scrutiny
BEIJING — A top official in the southern Chinese region of Guangxi is under investigation for corruption, the ruling Communist Party’s graft watchdog reported Friday.
Vice Governor Liu Hongwu is being investigated for “serious violations of discipline and laws,” the Central Committee for Discipline Inspection said, using its standard term for graft. No details were given.
Liu’s official biography lists him as a senior economist and head of the development office on the Beibu Gulf, also known as the Gulf of Tonkin.
Guangxi borders Vietnam to the south and is known for its lush landscape of karst formations and multiple minority groups, mainly the Zhuang. With its lengthy land and sea border and distance from Beijing, the region has also developed a reputation for smuggling and other illegal activity.
President and party leader Xi Jinping has waged a decade-long campaign against corruption that has ensnared serving and retired officials in the military, government, party and state industries, although the pace of investigations has appeared to slow in recent years.
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