Sister Abhaya case trial starts after 27 years

CBI witness retracts statement against two accused in the suspicious death case of a nun

August 26, 2019 11:46 pm | Updated August 27, 2019 11:01 am IST - Thiruvananthapuram

Sister Abhaya

Sister Abhaya

After meandering through various levels of the judiciary for 27 years, the trial in the case relating to the suspicious death of 19-year-old Sister Abhaya in a convent in Kottayam in 1992 commenced in the Special Court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) here on Monday.

However, the initial day of the trial appeared to go against the prosecution. The CBI had named a nun as a witness. She let the agency down by throwing her lot in with the defence.

The nun retracted her statement that she had seen the headscarf and a pair of slippers that belonged to Sr. Abhaya lying beside the well from where her body was fished out the next day. She also denied she had heard the sound of something heavy falling into the well the previous night.

The CBI had earlier found that at least eight objects submitted in court as evidence had been deliberately destroyed.

They included the clothes worn by Sr. Abhaya at the time of her death and her diary. As per records, the police had taken the objects for the probe from the court and returned them. However, the CBI could not find the material in the evidence room.

The accused in the case are Fr. Thomas M. Kottoor and Sr. Stephi. Earlier, the court had discharged Fr. Jose Poothrukayil from facing trial in the case.

The agency argued that Sr. Stephi had hit Sr. Abhaya three times on the head with the blunt side of an axe when the 19-year-old novice entered the convent’s kitchen to drink water and found her senior and Fr. Thomas in ‘objectionable circumstances.’

The CBI had averred that they had thrown Abhaya into the convent’s well to make her death appear as a case of suicide or an accident The accused were present in the court’s pen reserved for accused persons. Both appeared stoic and withdrawn.

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