28 Yrs Later, Father, Nun Found Guilty in Murder of Sister Abhaya

Special CBI judge Sanal Kumar will hear the convicts on the sentence on 23 December.

Published
India
2 min read
Nearly three decades since the murder of Sister Abhaya, a special CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, 22 December, found Father Tomas Kattoor and Sister Sephy guilty of murder in the case.
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Nearly three decades since the murder of Sister Abhaya, a special CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram on Tuesday, 22 December, found Father Tomas Kattoor and Sister Sephy, a priest and nun of the Catholic Church, guilty of murder in the case.

The findings of the court will be known after the full copy of the judgement is released. Special CBI judge Sanal Kumar will hear the convicts on the sentence on 23 December.

What is the case about?

On 27 March 1992, Sister Abhaya, a Class 12 student, was found dead inside a well at the Pious X Convent in Kottayam, Kerala.

Initially, the case was ruled as a suicide by the local police and the crime branch but it was handed over to the CBI after several protests. According to the charge sheet, Abhaya was killed because she was witness to an alleged immoral activity involving two priests and a nun. She was attacked with a blunt object before being dumped in the well, the CBI had claimed.

Here is a timeline of the Sister Abhaya murder case:

January 1993: Kerala crime branch closed the case reporting it was a case of suicide.

February 1993: In the following months, protests erupted demanding justice.

March 1993: Human Rights activist Jomon Puthenpurackal filed a petition. The case was handed over to the CBI.

September 1996: The CBI stated that it was a case of suicide. Court rejected its report and directed reinvestigation.

March 1997: In its second report, the CBI stated that it was a case of homicide. The court once again rejected its findings and called for a reinvestigation.

December 2008: In its third report, the CBI told a court in Ernakulam that it was a murder and arrested three accused – Catholic priests, Father Thomas Kottoor and Father Jose Poothrukayil, and a nun, Sister Sephy. They were charged with murder, destruction of evidence, and criminal conspiracy.

January 2009: All the three accused were granted bail after spending six months in jail.

July 2009: The CBI filed a charge sheet in the case against the three accused under IPC 302 (murder) and IPC 201 (destroying evidence). The accused filed discharge pleas and several petitions stating that the trial took nine years. Several witnesses turned hostile. The accused Catholic priests and nun were subjected to narco analysis tests.

March 2018: The Court acquitted Father Poothrukayil over lack of evidence.

August 2019: A trial in the case started after 27 years. Human Rights activist Jomon Puthenpurackal is the only surviving member of the panel that fought for justice for Sister Abhaya.

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