After 28 years the special CBI court here on Tuesday pronounced the verdict in Sister Abhaya case that both accused Fr. Thomas Kottoor and Sr. Sephy are guilty.
After the verdict, the nun broke down, while the priest on his way to jail shouted from the police vehicle that 'he is innocent'.
The CBI court found Fr. Thomas Kottoor guilty of murder (IPC 302), causing disappearance of evidence of the offence, or giving false information to screen offender (IPC 202) and house-trespass in order to commit an offence (IPC 449) while Sr. Sephy was found guilty of murder and causing disappearance of evidence.
The CBI court will pronounce the sentence today after an argument on the quantum of punishment.
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.
Speaking to ANI, Jomon Puthenpurackal said that finally justice has been delivered after 28 long years.
"The verdict today is the answer to all those who tried to pressurise and derail the case. I withstood all pressures and even threats to my life to fight for the case. Finally, the truth has won and justice has been served," he said.
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.
Special CBI court judge K Sanil Kumar will pronounce the sentence today. CBI prosecutor M Navas appeared in the court for prosecution.