A special CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday has found Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy guilty in the murder case of Catholic Sister Abhaya. The verdict came 28 years after Sister Abhaya, a 19-year-old Catholic nun, was murdered and her body dumped inside the well of a convent in Kerala’s Kottayam.
Earlier, the CBI court had allowed the discharge petition of Fr Jose Poothrakayal. The quantum of punishment would be delivered tomorrow.
Sister Abhaya’s body was found in the well of the St Pius Convent in Kottayam on March 27, 1992. Initially, the case was investigated by the local police and state crime branch, which concluded that Abhaya had committed suicide. However, the case was taken over by CBI on March 29, 1993, following a legal battle by Jomon Puthenpurackal.
The central probe agency in 2008 arrested Kottoor, Poothrikkayil and Sephy on the charge of murder. The CBI counsel told the Kerala High Court that Sr Abhaya, in the early morning hours of March 27, 1992, had stumbled upon the two priests and the nun in a “compromising” position.
Fearing that they would be outed before the Church, the prosecution alleged, Sr Sephy, in a fit of rage, hit Sr Abhaya with an axe and the accused pushed the nun into the well while she was still alive. The prosecution informed the court that the accused had gone to numerous lengths to destroy the evidence in the case and hide their sexual relations.
While Fr Kottoor and Sr Sephy have been presently charged by the CBI on various counts including murder, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy, Fr Puthrukkayil was let off by a CBI trial court in 2018 on finding no evidence against him in the case.
Jomon Puthenpurackal, the activist who had doggedly pursued the case, told reporters Tuesday that the verdict had restored public trust in courts. “I have faced personal setbacks because of this case,” he said.
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