28 Years After Murder, CBI Court Finds Kottayam Priest And Nun Guilty


28 Years After Murder, CBI Court Finds Kottayam Priest And Nun Guilty

OVERVIEW

• The verdict during this regard was pronounced by CBI special court judge J Sanal Kumar who said that the murder charges against Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy will stand. Both are in judicial custody.

• The quantum of sentence within the case are getting to be pronounced within the upcoming week.

• The trial within the case began on August 26 last year and all of the witnesses had turned hostile.

BRIEF BACKGROUND

• A CBI court, on Tuesday, found a Catholic priest and a nun guilty in regard to the murder of 21-year-old Sister Abhaya, whose body was found within the well of a convent in Kottayam in 1992.

• The state police initially concluded in 1993 that the nun had died by suicide. The matter was then handed over to the CBI after an activist, JomonPuthenpurackal, took it to court.

• The CBI, after taking over the case from the local police in 1993, filed three closure reports at different points of some time. In 1996, the agency filed a report stating it couldn't conclude whether it had been a homicide or suicide. The court, however, rejected the submission and ordered a re-investigation.

• A year later, the central agency concluded that the case was indeed a homicide, but there was no evidence to undertake the case. This was again rejected by the court and a third round of CBI probe began.

• In 2005, yet another report was filed by the CBI after an investigation by another team ruled out involvement of other persons in Sister Abhaya’s death. On All Saints' Day, 2008, the supreme court of Kerala directed the Kochi Unit of the central agency to need over the investigation.

• The CBI made its first arrests within the case ten years after the alleged murder. Catholic priests Thomas Kottoor, Father Jose Poothrukayil, and Sister Sefi were charged with the nun’s murder, destruction of evidence, and criminal conspiracy in 2008. They were granted bail by the Kerala supreme court in 2009.

WHAT HAPPENED NEXT?

• The blotter filed by the central agency in July 2009 stated that Sister Abhaya had accidentally intruded upon Sister Sephy and thus the 2 priests during a “compromising position”.

• It said that upon being discovered, Sister Sephy panicked and – “on the spur of the moment” – she hit Sister Abhaya with an axe. then, the three accused allegedly dumped Abhaya’s body into the well.

• Father Poothrukayil was released last year after no evidence was found against him. But the CBI Court had rejected the discharge pleas of Kottoor and Sister Sephy, observing that there are sufficient grounds for clear presuming that the two had committed offences punishable under Indian code. The dismissal of their discharge petitions was approved by the supreme court.

SUBSEQUENT HAPPENINGS

• Former officer of the Kerala police Special Branch KT Michael, who was accused of destruction of evidence, was also discharged by the court last year. Nine prosecution witnesses within the case had turned hostile during the trial, which had started in August 2019.

• In October, the Kerala supreme court had directed investigators to expedite the trial by conducting daily hearings. one bench of Justice VG Arun had observed that it had been “disheartening to note that criminal proceedings concerning a criminal offense of 1992 is yet to realize finality, whether it's by reason of providence or design”.

• The court had then allowed cross-examination of witnesses through video conferencing considering the coronavirus pandemic.

DO YOU THINK THE DELAY BY THE JUDICIAL SYSTEM WAS JUSTIFIED? LET US KNOW YOUR VIEWS THROUGH THE COMMENTS SECTION BELOW!

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