Pressure from ‘influential groups’ to sabotage Nun’s Rape cum Murder-CBI

published on April 23, 2007

Fifteen years on, mystery still shrouds nun’s death

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The 15-year-old mystery over the death of a nun in Kerala, which the Central Bureau of Investigation is re-investigating and has not found any lead, has taken a new turn with reports coming out that the chemical examination report was tampered with.

Soon after reports of manipulation surfaced in the Sister Abhaya case, the chemical examination report and other documents were immediately seized from the Chemical Examiner’s Laboratory here on the orders of the Chief Judicial Magistrate.

The CBI sleuths also questioned Chief Chemical Examiner R Geetha, who was then the head of the Toxicology Department and Joint Chemical Examiner under whose supervision the forensic tests were conducted.

The chemical examination results are the only evidence now left for the CBI and taking this into account, the seized documents had been kept in custody.

Sister Abhaya was found dead in a well at the Pius X Convent in Kottayam on March 27, 1992. An action committee, led by human rights activist Joemon Puthenpurakkal, had alleged that she was strangled and thrown into the well.

The state police and the Crime Branch had dismissed it as suicide. The case was then handed over to the CBI in 1993, which had initially endorsed the police version but after attempts at closing the case thrice has of late concluded it was a case of homicide but said the murderer remained untraced.

The Ernakulam Chief Judicial Magistrate did not accept the CBI’s final report and directed it to conduct a fresh investigation. The court had thrice rejected the final report filed by the CBI asking for a closure of the case.

The CBI also came under cloud when Dy S P Varghese P Thomas, who began investigating the case, suddenly quit in 1993 saying that he was under duress from authorities to close the case as a suicide.

Meanwhile, it is said that the ‘corrections’ were found in the work record register and not in the final report. Chief Chemical Examiner Geetha had even written to the state Home Minister stating that no corrections had been made in the final report. However, she said her supervisory role during the forensic test was to verify procedures and results obtained by the junior technical staff. She had even said the corrections on the manuscript were carried out on her direction, adding that there was no manipulation or fabrication.

She said such errors and corrections were normal while writing the work record and that there were no corrections in the final report which was handed over to the police.

Ms Geetha said the assistant, who had written the report, instead of scoring off and correcting it, had erased with rubber, which had now given the impression that it was an attempt at manipulation.

Mr Thomas, the CBI official who had first investigated the case, had said recently that it was a case of clear murder and added that there were still some level of pressure from influential groups. He had challenged the CBI saying that he was ready to repay all his pension benefits if it could be proved that it was not a murder.

He also said the reports about that the chemical examination report was tampered with was a turning point in the investigation.

Mr Thomas said the court should entrust further probe with a forensic lab outside the state to see if the report was tampered with or not.

After 15 long years, the controversial Abhaya case had come to the limelight again and it should be seen if the chemical examination report could solve the 15 year case in the state.

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