Kerala nun murder case: Accused to face trial 27 years on, HC dismisses review plea

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New Delhi | Updated: April 9, 2019 5:20:29 PM

On March 27, 1992, Sister Abhaya’s body was found in the well of the ST Pius Convent in Kottayam.

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The Kerala High Court on Tuesday dismissed review pleas filed by two accused Father Dr Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy who sought to be acquitted in the the 27-year-old case of Sister Abhaya’s murder.

Justice Sunil Thomas, dismissing the petitions filed by first accused Father Dr Thomas Kottoor and third accused Sister Sephy, ordered that they face trial in the case.

The discharge petitions by two accused were also rejected by a special CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram in March 2018, noting that there was enough ground to presume that both Father Dr Thomas Kottoor, and Sister Sephy had committed the crime under IPC Sections

302 (murder) and 201 (destroying evidences) with section 34 (Acts by several persons in furtherance of common intention).

Subsequently, the accused approached the Kerala High Court, which too upheld the CBI Court order verdict while discharging second accused Father, Jose Poothrikkayil, in the case citing lack of sufficient evidence for proceedings against him.

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The plea challenging the CBI court verdict discharging Poothrikkayil in the case was rejected in the High Court which also discharged fourth accused and a former crime branch SP, K T Michael. The former crime branch SP had closed the case stating that Sister Abhaya had committed suicide in his initial investigation and was accused of allegedly destroying evidence in the case.

On March 27, 1992, Sister Abhaya’s body was found in the well of the ST Pius Convent in Kottayam.

Initially, local police and state crime branch had concluded that Sister Abhaya had committed suicide. However, in 1993, CBI had taken over the case after a legal battle by Jomon Puthenpurackal, human rights activist.

In 2008, CBI arrested all three accused – Kottoor, Poothrikkayil and Sephy – on the charges of murder.

As per the prosecution, Kottoor and Poothrikkayil were allegedly in an illicit relationship with Sephy, who was an inmate of the convent.

The charge sheet stated that on the night of March 27, 1992, Sister Abhaya reportedly saw Kottoor and Sephy in an objectionable position, post which the three accused hacked her with an axe and threw her body into the well.

Sixteen years later, the accused were arrested and released on bail by the Kerala High Court a year later. Now, the HC has directed them to face the trial. The accused have one more chance to delay the trial if they approach the Supreme court now.

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