A special CBI court on Tuesday gave its verdict in the Sister Abhaya murder nearly three decades later. CBI Judge Sanal Kumar has convicted the main accused in the case, Father Thomas Kottur and Sister Sephy. Both convicts appear to be the priest and nun of the Catholic Church. On December 23, the court will sentence the two killers.
On March 24, 1992, the body of a student was recovered from a well at Pious Xth Convent School in Kottayam, Kerala. The student was identified as sister Abhaya by police, while she was in 12th grade at the school. The case was later investigated by the crime branch. But that, too, stalled at the point of death as a police investigation.
However, the police and the crime branch’s investigation did not satisfy the public. So the people in the Sister Abhaya death case demanded a CBI investigation. The CBI was tasked with investigating the case after human rights activist Juman Puthanpurakkal filed a petition. The CBI investigated the case and submitted a report to the court in 18 years. The CBI, like the police and the crime branch, also called it a suicide case. However, the court rejected the CBI’s report and ordered an inquiry.
The CBI re-investigated and reported to the court on the 17th that it was a homicide. In 2007, the CBI filed a third report in court, accusing the Catholic Church’s Father Thomas Kottur, Father Jose Putrukail and Nun Sephy of murder. The CBI had charged them with murder, destruction of evidence and criminal conspiracy.
Six months later, the CBI arrested the accused and remanded them in custody. However, in 2008, the CBI, with the permission of the court, conducted a narcotics test of the three accused and submitted its report to the court. In 2016, the court acquitted Father Putrukail of lack of evidence. Father Thomas and Sister Sephy were eventually convicted by a court.
While many of the witnesses to the case are hostile, human rights activist Juman Puthanpurkal, who brought the case to a final stage after a long 30-year trial, is still alive. CBI investigation has revealed that Sister Abhaya was a witness to Father and Nun’s illicit affair so they killed her and dumped her body in a well to prove the case as a suicide.