Special CBI Judge K Sanal Kumar while convicting the duo said he will hear the arguments on the quantum of sentence for them on Wednesday.
After the Judge pronounced the verdict, Sister Sephy and Father Thomas Kottoor, were sent to Attakulangara Women’s Jail and Poojappura Central Jail respectively after completing a medical check-up at the Fort Hospital in the city.
The Kerala High Court directed the Kochi unit of the CBI to reinvestigate the case on November 1, 2008. Nine prosecution witnesses had turned hostile during the trial which started in August 2019.
Sister Abhaya, a member of St. Joseph’s Congregation for religious sisters under the Syro-Malabar Catholic Archeparchy of Kottayam, was found dead in a well in St Pius X Convent in Kottayam on March 27, 1992. She was 18 then and pursuing pre-degree course.
The CBI found that Sister Abhaya saw the accused in a compromising position when she went to the kitchen of the convent.
The accused got scared that Abhaya would reveal their affair and attacked her from behind with an axe.
When the teenager lost consciousness, the accused took her body outside and threw it inside a well.
The local police which investigated the case initially closed it with a theory of suicide. The Crime Branch which took up the investigation later tried to strengthen the suicide theory, with claims of psychological illness of the deceased.
The High Court transferred the investigation to the Central Bureau of Investigation after hearing a petition.
The first team of CBI failed to find the reason of death. Upon the direction of the Court, a second team was set up, which concluded that it was indeed a murder, but there were not much enough evidence.
The Court appointed a CBI third team, and they finally found two priests and a sister responsible for the murder and arrested them on November 19, 2008.
The other accused in the case, Father Jose Poothrikkayil, was discharged by the CBI Court last year.
A former Crime Branch official KT Micheal, an accused in the destruction of evidence, was also discharged by the court last year.
An ‘Action Council’ formed by social activist Jomon Puthenpurackal had played a major role in seeking proper investigation in the case. During the trial, as many as 177 witnesses died or turned hostile. (UNI)