28 years on, verdict in Kerala nun’s murder case on December 22
The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday concluded the final hearing in Sister Abhaya’s murder case, a 28-year-old case that witnessed many twists and turns, and said it would announce a verdict on December 22.
The CBI had chargesheeted Catholic priest Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sefi , a nun, in the case. They were charged with murder, destruction of evidence, criminal conspiracy and other charges. Another accused, Father Jose Poothrukayil, was let off by the CBI court last year after it found no evidence to proceed against him.
Sister Abhaya, a Class 12 student, was found dead in the well of the Pious X Convent in Kottayam in 1992. Many witnesses turned hostile during the trial and there were a flurry of petitions in higher courts which delayed proceedings.
According to the CBI charge sheet, Abhaya was killed because she was a witness to some alleged immoral activity involving two priests and a nun. She was attacked with an axe before being dumped in the well, the CBI claimed. Though the case created ripples in the state, the Church stood by the accused, calling them innocent.
First the local police, and then the crime branch concluded that it was a case of suicide. Following a hue and cry, the case was handed over to the CBI, which also filed three reports in the case. First, it said it was a case of “homicidal suicide.” But this report was rejected by the court which ordered a fresh investigation.
In the second report, the agency could not establish beyond doubt whether it was a suicide or murder. In the last report it filed in 2008, it said it was a murder and arrested three persons, two priests and a nun.
The case was delayed as the accused moved courts frequently. Besides the murder case, the court will also deliver its verdict on the trial of some of the witnesses who turned hostile.