The special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court in Thiruvananthapuram on Wednesday sentenced priest Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy to life imprisonment in the murder case of Catholic Sister Abhaya. The verdict in the case came 28 years after Sister Abhaya, a 19-year-old Catholic nun, was murdered and her body dumped inside the well of a convent in Kerala’s Kottayam.
According to the CBI team’s findings, Sister Abhaya was killed by two priests, Thomas Kottoor and Jose Poothrikkayil, and another nun, Sephy in her convent. However, Jose Poothrikkayil was later removed from the list of accused.
The two religious figures have been convicted despite several crucial witnesses in the case having turned hostile. In fact, witnesses turning hostile was the biggest challenge faced by the prosecution during the trial, which started only in August 2019.
Sister Abhaya’s dead body was found in the well of St Pius Convent in Kottayam on March 27, 1992. Initially, the case was investigated by the local police and state crime branch, which concluded that Abhaya had committed suicide. However, the case was taken over by CBI on March 29, 1993, following a legal battle by Puthenpurackal.
According to CBI findings, Sister Abhaya found the priests and nun Sephy in a compromising position in the convent kitchen and they killed her fearing she would speak out about this and they would be judged before the church. The prosecution alleged that Sister Sephy, in a fit of rage, hit Sister Abhaya with an axe and the three of them pushed the nun into the well while she was still alive.