Kerala HC admits appeal by Father Thomas Kottoor challenging his conviction in Sister Abhaya murder case

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Representative Image

Kochi (Kerala) [India], January 19 (ANI): The Kerala High Court has agreed to hear the appeal moved by Father Thomas Kottoor challenging the trial court verdict convicting him for the murder of Sister Abhaya.

A Division Bench of Justices K Vinod Chandran and MR Anitha admitted Father Kottoor's appeal.

In his appeal, Father Kottoor has submitted that "the trial court's judgment is based on unconnected story circumstances culled out from unreliable solitary witnesses. The trial and conviction of the accused by the court below in all respects are vitiated by grave illegalities and irregularities."

Kottoor, along with Sister Sephy, a nun, were convicted on December 23, 2020, by a CBI Court, Thiruvananthapuram for the murder of 19-year-old nun Sister Abhaya. Thereafter, they were sentenced to imprisonment for life.

The 19-year-old Catholic nun's body was found in a well inside St Pius Convent in Kottayam district of Kerala on March 27, 1992, and the case first investigated by local police was shifted to the crime branch. Both of the probes concluded it as a suicide. An action council was formed including activist Jomon Puthenpurackal who challenged the findings and the case was transferred to the CBI in 1993.

After CBI took over the case, in 2008, the CBI recorded the arrests of two Catholic priests, Fr Thomas Kottoor and Fr Jose Puthrukkayil, and the nun, Sr Sephy. But for lack of evidence, Puthrukkayil was discharged by the court in 2018.

Statements of Adakka Raju, a thief who had happened to be on the convent on the night to steal, gave a statement that he had seen the accused, proved crucial along with statements and findings of few police officers who probed the case initially. Almost eight witnesses, including crucial witnesses, had turned hostile in the case.

When the incident happened, Abhaya had been a pre-degree student in college run by the Catholic Church and was an inmate of Pious Xth Convent Hostel. (ANI)