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Father Kottoor and Sister Sephy receive life sentences for the murder of Sister Abhaya | India News

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THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The CBI special court here on Wednesday granted Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy life sentences, on charges of murdering Sister Abhaya, 21, in 1992 and subsequently destroying evidence.
On Tuesday, IWC Judge K Sanilkumar had found Father Thomas Kottoor, 71, of Kottoor House, Kidangoor, Kottayam, guilty on charges of murder, destruction of evidence and burglary, and Sister Sephy, of 57 years old, from St Joseph Generalate, SH Mount, Kottayam, guilty of murder and destruction of evidence.
Before passing the sentence, the court heard the prosecution and the two convicted for the last time. The prosecution called for capital punishment for the two convicts, citing that it may be the first time in history that a priest and a nun were convicted of the murder of another nun. The prosecutor also cited that the victim was an unfortunate novice, the defendants were his superiors and carried out a systematic and complete destruction of evidence.
Father Kottoor stated that he was an elderly man suffering from various diseases, including stage IV prostate cancer, and sought the utmost mercy. Sister Sephy also asked the court for clemency in deciding the amount of the sentence citing poor health as she suffered from deep vein thrombosis. He also mentioned that he had parents, both in their 90s.
The defense lawyer declared against the death penalty, alleging that the crime was not previously planned and that the defendant had no criminal record, in addition to citing his advanced age and poor health.
The prosecution had questioned 49 witnesses during the trial. In its 229-page petition, Sanilkumar did not forget to mention the extraordinarily long time it took for the case to reach its conclusion. In introducing the order itself, the judge noted that this attention-grabbing case has dragged on for more than a quarter of a century. In his conclusion, the judge held that the evidence in the record is more than sufficient to sustain that the uninterrupted chain of circumstances that cumulatively point to the guilt of the accused of having been caught red-handed in a compromising position that led him to inflict a Fatal blow to Sister Abhaya’s boss knowing that the injuries were enough to cause her death.
The two convicts were sentenced to life imprisonment and each was fined 5 lakh rupees for the crime of murder. In case of non-payment of the fine, the accused will be subjected to an additional simple prison sentence for a period of two years.
They will be subjected to a rigorous seven-year prison term and a fine of Rs 50,000 will each be imposed for the crime of destruction of evidence. In the event of non-payment of the fine, the convicted persons will be subjected to an additional simple prison sentence for a period of one year.
Father Thomas Kottoor, defendant number one, is also sentenced to life imprisonment and fined 1 lakh rupees for the crime of trespassing. In the absence of payment of a fine, he will be subjected to additional simple prison for a period of one year.
Meanwhile, human rights activist Jomon Puthenpurackal, who has been fighting the murder case of Sister Abhaya since 1992, said he was happy with the verdict.
“The CBI judge delivered the punishment like a judicious God. I am also glad that the verdict came on the 10th anniversary of the death of former CM K Karunakaran. It was Karunakaran who made the decision to hand the case over to CBI. If the local police had been investigating the case, there would have been no progress, ”Puthenpurackal told TOI.
The Knanaya Catholic Archdiocese of Kottayam reacted for the first time on Wednesday after the verdict of Sister Abhaya’s case by the CBI special court. A press release from the PRO Archdiocese Aji Koyickal said: “The death of Abhaya, who was a member of the Archdiocese of Kottayam, was sad and unfortunate. The CBI special court has determined that Abhaya was murdered and has issued life sentences for Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy, who are also members of this diocese. The accusations against them are incredible. Even then we respect the verdict of the court. Defendants have the right to appeal the verdict and prove their innocence. However, the archdiocese is saddened and regretted by the events, ”said the press release.

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