A special CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala has found Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy guilty in the case pertaining to the murder of Catholic nun Abhaya, and sentenced them to life in prison. Kottoor, 69, and Sephy, 55, were charged under Section 302 (murder) and Section 201 (destruction of evidence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
The verdict came 28 years after the body of the nun was found in a well of her convent hostel in Kottayam. During the course of the hearing, the HC had allowed the discharge petition of Father Puthrikkayl, the third accused in the case. The victim and accused belong to the Knanaya Catholic Church, headquartered in Kottayam. At the time of her death, Abhaya had been a pre-degree student in college run by the Catholic Church. She had been an inmate of Pious Xth Convent Hostel, which had 123 inmates, including 20 nuns, in 1992 when the incident happened.
During the trial, eight of the 49 prosecution witnesses turned hostile. However, the court relied upon circumstantial evidence and the statement of a thief named Adakka Raja. Raja had happened to see the priests at the hostel, where he had sneaked into in the early hours of March 27, 1992, the day of the incident. The judgement was announced by CBI judge K Sanal Kumar. The 19-year-old sister was found dead inside the well of St Pius X Convent, Kottayam on March 27, 1992. The deceased woman’s parents were identified as Ayikkarakunnel Thomas and Leelamma.