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Sister Abhaya murder case: CBI court acquits Kerala priest Father Jose

The court ordered a nun and another Catholic priest to face trial in the 26-year-old case

india Updated: Mar 07, 2018 13:52 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times,  Thiruvananthapuram
Sister Abhaya murder case,CBI court,Pius X Convent
A CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram acquitted Catholic priest Father Jose Poothrukayil in the murder of Sister Abhaya while ordering a nun and another priest to face trial in the 26-year-old case.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

A CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday acquitted Catholic priest Father Jose Poothrukayil in the murder of Sister Abhaya while ordering a nun and another priest to face trial in the 26-year-old case.

Sister Abhaya, a plus-two student, was found dead in a well on the premises of the Pius X Convent in Kottayam in 1992. It was initially described as a case of suicide by crime branch, but the CBI later concluded that it was a murder.

Besides, Father Jose, the investigating agency booked Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sefi.

All the three accused had moved the court with discharge petitions.

Hearing their pleas, the court ruled that there was no evidence against Father Jose and removed him from the accused list, but two others will have to face the trial.

The CBI has charged all three with murder, destruction of evidences and other offences.

“It is god’s grace that my innocence is proved after 26 years,” said Father Jose after the verdict.

Two months ago, the court had made former crime branch superintendent of police K T Michael an accused in the case for allegedly destroying evidences.

Michael had initially probed the case and concluded that it was a case of suicide. Later Sister Abhaya’s dress and diary were submitted in a local court as exhibits from the crime scene. But these exhibits were allegedly destroyed before the CBI took up the case.

According to the CBI chargesheet, on the fateful day Abhaya got up early for her studies and went to the kitchen to wash her face.

There she reportedly witnessed some immoral activities involving two priests and a nun. She was killed fearing that she might spill the beans. She was first attacked with an axe and later dumped in the well.

Though the sensational case created enough ripples in the state, the church stood by the accused saying “they were innocent”.

There were allegations that a senior Congress leader from the state and a former judge of the Supreme Court had tried to scuttle the investigation.

The case was delayed inordinately citing many issues.

First Published: Mar 07, 2018 13:52 IST