Life imprisonment to the catholic priest and nun in Sister Abhaya murder case
At last, justice was delivered to Catholic Sister Abhaya who was murdered 28 years ago in a Church’s convent. A CBI special court in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday awarded life imprisonment to the catholic priest and nun, who were found guilty of the murder of Sister Abhaya who accidentally witnessed the accused in a compromising position at night in the kitchen of the convent in Kottayam district. Fearing Abhaya will tell on them, she was killed on the spot and the body dumped in a well by the accused in March 1992.
Special CBI Judge K Sanal Kumar awarded double life sentence to Father Thomas Kottoor and imposed a fine of Rs.6.5 lakhs. Whereas the other accused in the case, Sister Sephy was sentenced to life and a fine of Rs.5.5 lakhs was slapped on her. The court had on Tuesday found the two guilty of the murder of Sister Abhaya, who was found dead in a well in St Pius Convent in Kottayam in 1992. The court also sentenced the duo to seven years of imprisonment for tampering with evidence. However, the sentences shall run concurrently, the court said.
The CBI took over probe on March 29, 1993, which also filed three closure reports saying though it was a case of murder, the culprits could not be found out.
Father Kottoor has been sentenced for double life imprisonment for two offences – murder and criminal trespass under sections 302 and 449 of IPC respectively. The court has slapped a fine of Rs.5 lakhs under section 302 and Rs.1 lakh for criminal trespass into the nun’s convent. Sister Sephy has been imprisoned for life under section 302 of IPC along with a fine of Rs.5 lakhs and seven years imprisonment for tampering with the evidence which also carries a fine of Rs.50,000.
Abhaya (21), a second-year student of the BCM college, Kottayam, was staying at St Pius Convent. Another accused in the case, Father Jose Puthrikkayil, was discharged earlier following lack of evidence.
Initially, the case was investigated by the local police and state crime branch, which concluded that Abhaya had committed suicide. The CBI took over probe on March 29, 1993, which also filed three closure reports saying though it was a case of murder, the culprits could not be found out.
However, on September 4, 2008, the Kerala High Court came down heavily on CBI over the handling of the Sister Abhaya murder case and said the agency was “still a prisoner of those who wields political and bureaucratic power” and directed that the probe be handed over by the Delhi unit to its Kochi counterpart. Subsequently, the central agency in 2008 arrested the two priests – Father Thomas Kottoor, Father Jose Poothrikkayil and a nun – Sister Sephy on the charge of murder.
According to prosecution, Kottoor and Poothrikkayil were allegedly having an illicit relationship with Sephy, also an inmate of the convent. On the night of March 27, 1992, Abhaya allegedly saw Kottoor and Sephy in a compromising position, following which the three accused hacked her with an axe and threw her into the well, it had said in its charge sheet.
The complete judgment is shown below:
[with PTI inputs]
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