VR Jayaraj | Kochi
The CBI on Friday filed a chargesheet in the sensational case relating to the murder of a 21-year-old Christian nun, Sr Abhaya, in Kottayam, Kerala, after 17 years of probes by various agencies. The country’s premier investigating agency, which filed the 50-page chargesheet in the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Ernakulam, listed two senior priests and a nun of the Catholic Church, and a former assistant sub-inspector of police, who committed suicide some months ago, as accused in the case.
However, AX Vargehse, counsel for Thomas Aikkarakkunnel, father of the murdered nun, said that the CBI act of submitting the chargesheet and its contents were mysterious. He suspected that there was an effort on the part of the agency to save some people. The Church had from the very beginning argued that the CBI’s conclusions were weird and that priests and nuns were being victimised.
In the chargesheet, the agency submitted that the first three accused, Fr Thomas M Kottoor, Fr Jose Puthrukayil and Sr Seffi, dumped Sr Abhaya in the well of the St Pius X Convent, Kottayam after killing her. The CBI had arrested the three senior Knanaya Catholic Church personalities on November 19 last. Justice K Hema of the Kerala High Court had granted bail to the three accused on January 1.
In a rare development, the CBI also listed VV Augustine, former ASI of police, Kottayam, who was found dead near his residence on November 25 last, as an accused for destroying crucial evidences. Augustine was one of the first police officials to reach the convent to take the details of the death of the nun. It was said that Augustine had committed suicide as he could stand the anxieties the case generated in him. The body of Sr Abhaya was found in the well of the convent on the morning of March 27, 1992. The 17-year-long probes by various agencies had been filled with uncertainties, stories of immoral acts of the clergy and trespassing into convents for nuns and mysteries over recordings of narco-analysis procedures.
The local police, who first probed the case, termed the death of the nun as a case of suicide. The Kerala Police Crime Branch, which took up the case later, upheld the finding of the local police. The CBI which came on the scene later admitted that the nun was indeed murdered but they wanted to wind up the case as all evidences had been lost.
The present CBI team, which was the fifth agency group to probe the case, showed some concrete action by arresting three of the accused. This team concluded that Fr Kottoor, Fr Puthrukayil and Sr Seffi killed Sr Abhaya after they were convinced that she had seen them in indulging in immoral acts at an unearthly hour of the night in a corner of the convent.
The chargesheet said that the agency wanted to subject KT Michael, former CySP, Crime Branch, Achamma and Thresiamma, servants at the convent, and nun Sr Sherly, who was a room-mate of the murdered nun, to narco-analyses. The court had already given permission to subject the three women to narco-tests and the CBI had asked it for permission for the procedure on Michael.
The case was already mired in controversy due to mysteries over the recordings of the narco-analyses on the first three accused, who had been subjected to the tests in November, 2007. The CBI said in the chargesheet that more arrests were likely as the probe was still continuing.