Priests, nun held for culpable homicide: CBI

via PNS | Kochi / Kottayam published on November 22, 2008

The CBI on Saturday explained that the two priests and a nun of the Catholic Church were arrested in the Sr Abhaya murder case for culpable homicide and collective bid to commit murder even as the Kottayam Archdiocese decided to read out a pastoral letter on Sunday at the parish churches under it declaring its readiness to cooperate with any kind of probe into the killing of the nun in 1992.

The Central investigating agency intensified its probe into the murder by including more personnel in the team. The team of more than 30 personnel under the direct supervision of Kanthaswami, DIG at the agency’s Chennai unit, on Sunday split into two groups and conducted investigations in Kottayam and Kochi. They had reportedly questioned some of the police officials who had initially probed the murder.

The CBI reiterated that it had arrested Fr Thomas M Kottoor, Fr Jose Puthrukayil and nun Sr Seffi, accused one to three, on solid evidences and added that the proofs and explanations would be presented in the High Court on Monday.

The petition filed in the High Court by second accused Fr Puthrukayil on Friday against his remand in CBI custody for 14 continuous days would come up for hearing on Monday. Fr Kottoor, first accused, and Sr Seffi, third accused would file their pleas challenging the continuous remand in the High Court on Monday.

On Saturday, lawyer B Raman Pillai filed a petition in before the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Ernakulam, which had remanded the trio in 14-day CBI custody on Wednesday, seeking permission to see first accused Fr Kottoor. The lawyer said the meeting was sought to discuss the future procedures to be adopted in the case. This plea also would be taken up on Monday.

The pastoral letter to be read out in the parish churches under the Kottayam Archdiocese would offer to extend full cooperation for any kind of probe for finding the actual culprits behind the murder of Sr Abhaya at the St Pius X Convent in Kottayam 16 years ago. The position now being adopted by the Church was seen as a divergence from its earlier position. Immediately after the arrest of the trio, the Church had alleged victimization, protesting that there was mystery behind the CBI act.

The letter, prepared by Archbishop Mar Mathew Moolekkat, would demand impartial action against those responsible for the crime against a young nun under it. It would also demand comprehensive probe into all aspects of the murder.

Sources in the Church said there were differences of opinion on the development that was of humiliating nature to it as three of its senior functionaries had been implied in a very unholy crime. Fr Thomas M Kottoor, who was a teacher at BCM College, Kottayam where Sr Abhaya was a second-year pre-degree student when the murder took place, was now the diocesan chancellor of the Church.

Fr Jose Puthrukayil, second accused was a very senior Church personality, who was serving as the principal of the church-run St Pius X College at Rajapuram, Kasaragod. Sr Seffi, who was an inmate of the convent when Sr Abhaya was murdered, was a senior nun.

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