Timeline: Verdict in 1992 Sister Abhaya murder case today

The case was delayed as it meandered through various levels of the judiciary. Besides the murder case, the court will also deliver its verdict on some of the witnesses who turned hostile.
File photo of Sister Abhaya.
File photo of Sister Abhaya.
Updated on Dec 22, 2020 09:43 AM IST
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Thiruvananthapuram | Byhindustantimes.com| Edited by Mallika Soni

A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Kerala’s Thiruvananthapuram is set to pronounce its verdict in the Sister Abhaya’s murder case on Tuesday nearly three decades after she was found dead inside a convent. Sister Abhaya, a Class 12 student, was found dead in the well of the Pious X Convent in Kottayam on March 27, 1992.

Initially, the case was ruled as a suicide by the local police and the crime branch but it was handed over to CBI after protests erupted. The case was delayed as it meandered through various levels of the judiciary. In almost 30 years that the case trial has gone on for, several of the 177 witnesses have either died or turned hostile. Besides the murder case, the court will also deliver its verdict on some of the witnesses who turned hostile.

Here is a timeline of the key moments in the Sister Abhaya murder case:

March 27, 1992: Sister Abhaya’s body is found in a well of St Pious Convent in Kottayam

January 1993: State crime branch files a closure report saying it was a case of suicide but protest erupts thereafter

March 23, 1993: The case is handed over to CBI after human rights activist Jomon Puthenpurackal took the matter to court

September 1996: CBI concludes in its first report that the case was that of suicide. Court rejects its report and asks for reinvestigation.

March 1997: CBI in its second report says that the case was a homicide, not a suicide. The court again rejects its findings. CBI starts a fresh investigation.

2007: Case picks up speed as SP Nandakumar Nair took over the probe

December 2008: CBI tells a court in Ernakulam for the first time in its third report that it was a murder and arrests three accused - two Catholic priests, Father Thomas Kottoor and Father Jose Poothrukayil, and a nun, Sister Sephy. They were charged with murder, destruction of evidence, criminal conspiracy and other charges. According to the charge sheet, Abhaya was killed because she was 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 central agency claimed.

January 2009: All the three are granted bail after spending six months in jail

July 17, 2009: CBI files charge sheet in the case against the three accused. The three file discharge plea and it takes nine years to decide it. Many other petitions also came up during this period delaying the trial.

March 2018: Courts acquit Father Poothrukayil over lack of evidence.

August 26, 2019: A trial in the case starts after 27 years. Many witnesses turn hostile.

September 19, 2019: CBI produces a retired professor Thresiama George, who had taught Abhaya at BCM College in Kottayam, as a witness. She raises serious charges against main accused Father Kotoor.

December 22, 2020: Day of verdict

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Friday, May 27, 2022