Trial in nun murder case to begin in Jan

via VR Jayaraj | Kochi - Daily Pioneer published on November 15, 2010

The trial proceedings in the sensational Sr Abhaya murder case will begin at the Special CBI Court in Kochi on January 13 nearly 19 years after the crime was committed. The chargesheet filed by the CBI in the case would be read out to the three accused – two senior Catholic priests and a Christian nun – on that day, marking the formal start of the trial.

The court took up the case on Monday but had to put it off due to the absence of third accused Sr Sephy, a senior nun at the same convent in Kottayam where murdered nun Sr Abhaya was an inmate. Her counsel appeared for her and requested postponement.

Fr Thomas M Kottoor and Fr Jose Puthrukayil, first and second accused respectively, were present in the court. Putting off the proceedings to January 13, the judge instructed all the three accused to be present in the court on that day.

The case, pertaining to the murder of Catholic nun Sr Abhaya (19) of Kottayam at the St Pius X Convent in Kottayam on the night of March 26-27, 1992, had seen several sensational developments with the alleged involvement of politicians and the powerful Knanaya Catholic Church and controversies over narco-analysis procedures.

The CBI case is that the two priests and the nun had struck Sr Abhaya in the back of the head with a blunt object at a small room in the rear of the convent building and threw her in the well of the convent after she fell unconscious. The accused have consistently denied the charges made by the CBI.

According to the investigating agency, the three Church personalities had murdered Sr Abhaya after she saw them in suspicious postures in a room in the convent at an unearthly hour. The CBI has claimed that they had got witness accounts, circumstantial evidences for this and that the narco-analyses of the accused had corroborated their findings.

The case had seen several controversial developments in its 19-year history. The local police who first probed it termed the death of Sr Abhaya as a case of suicide but the CBI came into the picture following persistent demands from an action council formed in Kottayam.

Several CBI teams probed the case since then, and at one stage the agency told the court that Sr Abhaya was indeed murdered but prayed for closure of the case as there were no evidences available. However, a different CBI team took over the case after the Kerala High Court issued strict instructions.

The CBI had subjected Sr Sephy (49) to virginity examinations at the Medical College Hospital in Alappuzha. The test report produced by the CBI in the court said that the nun had undergone hymen reconstruction surgery and that her breasts had shown signs of continuous application of pressure, suggesting that she had been practicing sex.

However, Sr Sephi has questioned this “finding” and that case is presently in the Supreme Court. The details given in the CBI’s document on the virginity test had become sparked off controversies with various political and cultural forums objecting to it for its “foul language”.

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