Father (Fr) Thomas Kottoor and Knanaya Catholic nun (Sr) Sephy has been sentenced to life imprisonment by a special CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram for their involvement in the dastardly murder of Sister Abhaya in March 1992, ANI has reported.
The duo was yesterday (23 December) convicted of the crime despite over hundred witnesses turning hostile.
Sister Abhaya, a Catholic sister, was found dead in a water well in St Pius X Convent in Kottayam on 27 March 1992.
The local police and the Crime Branch had initially closed the investigation claiming that it was a suicide case. However based on a writ petition, the High Court of Kerala transferred the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).
While the first CBI team announced that it is unable to ascertain whether it was a suicide or a murder, a second investigative team established that it was a case of murder but said that it was unable to unearth any evidence.
Based on a court ordered probe, a a third CBI team was asked to investigate, following which it finally found two priests, Fr Thomas Kottoor and Fr Jose Puthrukayil and Sr Sephy responsible for the murder and arrested them on 19 November 2008.
The CBI following its investigation said that Sister Sephy had struck Abhaya three times in the head before disposing of the nun's body in the well behind the convent in the wee hours.
Sephy resorted to this step as Abhaya had accidentally witnessed the former in a “compromising position” with the two priests.
According to the CBI, Kottoor and Poothrikkayil had dragged her with the help of the nun to the well behind the convent and flung Abhaya into it.
The CBI said that the two priests and the nun had taken the help of several others to destroy the evidence in order to project Abhaya's death as a suicide.
The church, too, allegedly wielded its enormous clout to influence the investigating agencies in Kerala, first the local police and later the Crime Branch.
One of the key witnesses in the case, a photographer, Chacko Verghese, said he saw wounds on the body of the nun besides nail marks, while Abhaya’s teacher, Thresiyamma, who stood firm as a witness, said she was under tremendous pressure to retract her statement.
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