Nun murder case to wait till 2013 for trial

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer published on July 19, 2009

The sensational case of the murder of Christian nun Sr Abhaya is already more than 17 years old but the hearing in this affair is not expected to begin before 2013.

Though the investigating CBI team has filed the chargesheet listing four persons as accused, the case will not come up for trial for another four more years due to the large number of cases pending before the Judiciary.

Sr Abhaya’s father Thomas Aikkarakkunnel, who has been seeking justice in the case of murder of his daughter for all these years, is already an old man and people close to his family are praying to God for a conclusion in the affair during his lifetime. “They say that justice delayed is justice denied. But that is only a principle. Let God help her (Abhaya’s) father to get justice before his death,” said a relative.

On the one side, the CBI, though it has filed an allegedly incomplete chargesheet, is yet to complete its investigation into the case while on the other the Special CBI Court in Kochi, which is to take up the case for trial, has to clear the backlog of cases for four years. The court is presently dealing with cases filed in 2005.

Presently the case is being monitored by the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Ernakulam, but the trial is to take place in the Special CBI Court since it is a murder case investigated by the CBI.

The agency had come on the scene of probe into the case almost 13 years ago, but the chargesheet took all this time for preparation.

“Even now, the investigation is not complete,” admitted a former CBI official. “It (the case) is a complex web with almost no evidence available anywhere and whatever evidence was there had already been destroyed or distorted.

People may tend to criticize the CBI but it does not have any magic wand to solve such a mysterious case,” said the ex-agency man.

Sr Abhaya was found dead in the well of the St Pius X Convent, Kottayam on the morning of March 27, 1992 and six different teams had investigated the case. The fact is that even now, there has been no mentionable breakthrough in the investigation in the opinion of certain lawyers in the Kerala High Court.

The CBI had arrested Fr Thomas M Kottoor and Fr Jose Puthrukayil of the mighty Knanaya Catholic Church and Sr Seffi of the same convent as that of Sr Abhaya as first, second and third accused respectively on November 19, but legal experts doubt the strength of the cases against them.

In the chargesheet filed in the CJM Court on Friday, the CBI mentioned late VV Augustine, former assistant sub-inspector of police, as another accused for destroying evidence.

CBI sources said that they would question the officials of Centre for Development of Imaging Technology, Thiruvananthapuram, who had found the extensive editing and manipulations in the CDs with recordings of the narco-analysis reports on the accused, carried out at the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory, Bangalore. Also, it the agency was yet to carry out narco-analyses on four more persons, Achamma, Thresiamma (servants at the Kottayam convent), Sr Sherly, a nun at the convent, and KT Michael, former DySP, Crime Branch, who had concluded that Sr Abhaya’s death was a case of suicide.

Meanwhile, a report quoting the CBI chargesheet, claimed that former Knanaya Catholic Archbishop Kuriakose Kunnassery had said that Sr Abhaya could not have committed suicide but it could have been a case of murder. There were a total of 133 witnesses in the case as per the chargesheet. It was said that the chargesheet contained the name of 20 nuns as witnesses. Mar Kunnassery had been listed as the 57th witness.

The chargesheet claimed that it had been obvious from the result of the brain-mapping tests that the first three accused had direct role in the murder of the 21-year-old nun who was a pre-degree student by the time of the incident.

The results, according to the CBI, confirmed that the two priests had been regular visitors at the convent and the nun, Sr Seffi, had immoral relationship with them.

According to the CBI, the two priests and the nun had struck Sr Abhaya in the back of the head with a blunt object and threw her in the well after she fell unconscious thinking she had been dead.

Sr Abhaya had, in fact, died in the well, it said. The accused had resorted to the brutal act after they were convinced that Sr Abhaya had seen them in postures that suggested immoral activity in a narrow room in the back of the convent at an unearthly hour of the night.

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