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Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy sentenced to life imprisonment for murder of Sister Abhaya

A Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) court on Wednesday sentenced Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy to life imprisonment for the 1992 murder of Sister Abhaya at a convent in Kottayam district of Kerala.

The two have also been required to pay a fine of Rs 5 Lakh each.

Apart from the Rs. 5 Lakh fine imposed on the two, Father Kottoor has been directed to pay a sum of Rs 1 Lakh for house trespass.

Yesterday, CBI Judge K Sanilkumar pronounced Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy guilty in the twenty-eight-year-old murder investigation.

The two along with another, had been charged with murder and destruction of evidence and house trespass (Sections 302, 201, and 449 of the Indian Penal Code).

The second accused, Father Jose Poothrukayil was discharged from the case in 2018 for lack of evidence.

The verdict came more than 28 years after Sister Abhaya was found murdered at a convent in Kottayam district of Kerala.

Her body was found inside the well of the convent on March 27,1992. The case itself saw many twists and turns before it was eventually tried in court.

In 1993, the State police filed a closure report saying it was a case of suicide. The matter was then handed over to CBI after an activist, Jomon Puthenpurackal took it to court.

However, the CBI in 1996 filed a report stating it could not conclude whether it was a homicide or suicide. The Court, however, rejected the same and ordered re-investigation.

A year later, CBI concluded that the case was indeed a homicide but there was no evidence to try the case.

This was again rejected by the court and a third round of CBI probe began. Ten years later, the first arrests are made in the case when Father Thomas Kottoor, Father Jose Poothrukayil, and Sister Sephy were arrested and charged for murder in 2008.

They were later granted bail by the Kerala High Court in 2009. Poothrukayil was later discharged.

Pursuant to a High Court order this year, the trial resumed, and verdict was pronounced. A Single Bench of Justice VG Arun noted the long delays in the completion of trial and directed that the matter be heard on a day-to-day basis lest the wheels of justice come to a grinding halt.

Via Bar & Bench
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