Life-term for priest and nun accused in Abhaya murder case

By Arjun Raghunath
Deccan Herald
December 23, 2020

Father Thomas Kottoor (white shirt centre), who was pronounced guilty by a CBI court in the Sister Abhaya murder case.

The CBI special court in Thiruvananthapuram sentenced priest Thomas M Kottoor for life-term and sister Sephy for life-term in the 28-year old Sister Abhaya murder case of Kerala.

CBI special judge K Sanilkumar, who found the two guilty on Tuesday, pronounced the sentence on Wednesday.

According to initial reports, Thomas Kottoor was awarded life-terms for murder and house-trespass and Sephy was awarded life-term for murder. Both were also imposed with a fine of Rs. 5 lakh each.

While the prosecution sought maximum punishment for the accused, the accused pleaded for lenience. Thomas Kottoor cited his illness and old age and Sephy cited that her family was depending on her.

Sister Abhaya, aged 21, was found dead in the well of the St. Pius X convent in Kottayam on March 27, 1992. CBI's finding was that Abhaya, who was a second-year pre-degree student of Kottayam BCM College, happened to witness the accused in a compromising position when she came to the kitchen to drink water.

Subsequently, she was murdered by hitting using an ax and her body was dumped in the well of the convent. Both the priests were former teachers at the college where Abhaya studied and Sephy was in-charge of the convent hostel.

Even as much pieces of evidence were destroyed and many key witnesses turned hostile, CBI could prove the case based of scientific pieces of evidence and crucial witness statements, including that of a small-time thief, Raju alias Adayka Raju, who spotted the accused while he entered the convent for robbery. The accused tried to scuttle the case by even alleging that Abhaya had a family history of mental illness.



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