16 years on, two priests,
nun held for Sister Abhaya's murder
Nov 19 (IANS) Sixteen years after Sister Abhaya's body was
found in the well of a Kerala convent, investigations into
her murder finally made some headway Wednesday with the arrest
of two Catholic priests and a nun.
the first arrests in the case, Father Jose Putarika, 56, a
former Malayalam professor at the Kottayam college where Abhaya
studied, and Thomas Kottor, 61, the Diocesan chancellor of
the Catholic Church at Kottayam, were picked up by the Central
Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Tuesday. The third, 45-year-old
Sister Seffi, who belonged to the same convent as Abhaya,
was arrested Wednesday.
three, who were subjected to a truth serum test in Bangalore
last year, were remanded in CBI custody till Dec 2. A huge
crowd thronged the chief judicial magistrate's court, and
shouts of "shame, shame" were heard as people pushed
and shoved to get a glimpse of the three custodians of faith.
the court, the judge refused bail for the accused and turned
down the demand that they be questioned in presence of their
counsel. However, the magistrate did caution the CBI, which
had been under pressure to make an arrest in the case, that
questioning be done without any physical torture.
a resident of Pious X Hostel near here, was found dead in
the well of the Kottayam convent March 27, 1992. The CBI concluded
in November 1996 that the death was a homicide but the murderer
remained untraced. The Kerala police had earlier dismissed
the case as suicide.
reporters after the three arrested for their suspected involvement
in the murder were brought before the court, CBI Joint Director
Ashok Kumar said the case would be taken to its logical conclusion
in under 30 days.
is the endeavour of the CBI to complete the investigation
of the case as expeditiously as possible and as directed by
the Kerala High Court," he said.
sudden turn of events took place after the new investigation
team - this was the 13th CBI team investigating the murder
after the 12 previous probes failed to crack the case - questioned
Sanju Mathew, whose house adjoins the convent.
who was picked up by the CBI last week, testified that he
was a student at the time and was studying that night. In
the early hours of March 27, he went out to have tea when
he found Father Thomas Kottor's two-wheeler.
elderly father Thomas said he was happy that the CBI had finally
made an arrest.
want to know more details... This arrest is going to be a
big boost for the closing of the case; don't worry, if there
is a god, the case will be solved and the truth will come
out," Thomas told reporters.
the Kottayam Diocese of the Church said the latest developments
the 16 years of the investigation, various teams looked into
the case and could not find anything," a Church press
release stated, adding that it was surprising that in four
days the team got clues leading to the arrests.
arrested are innocent and if a proper investigation is initiated
then the real truth would come out."
Kerala High Court last month rapped the investigating agency
over the slow progress in its probe and asked the Kerala unit
of the CBI to take over.
interest in the case was re-ignited in April last year after
a newspaper reported that ASister Abhaya's medical reports
were tampered with at a Thiruvananthapuram laboratory.
to the arrests, Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan said the
way events unfolded have shown that "some people command
a lot of respect but incidents like this prove that this very
same people can do otherwise also".