The Kerala High Court has admitted an appeal filed by Father Thomas Kottoor against his conviction and sentencing in the Sister Abhaya murder case of 1993. A division bench of the Kerala High Court comprising Justices K Vinod Chandran and MR Anitha has issued a notice to the CBI, seeking a response.
On December 22, 28 years after the crime, a special CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram had sentenced Father Kottoor to double life term in the murder case of Sister Abhaya. The priest later moved the High Court seeking a suspension of the sentence.
Father Thomas Kottoor has alleged that the order of the conviction and sentence passed by the Special CBI Court was "absolutely improper and incorrect." His appeal also argues that the trial court's judgment is based on the â€śunconnected story circumstances culled out from unreliable solitary witnesses.â€ť It has also been stated that the trial court has not quoted any evidence in the judgment.
The CBI court had found both Father Kottoor and Sister Sephy guilty of the murder of Sister Abhaya, who was found dead in a well in St Pius Convent in Kottayam in 1992. Abhaya (21), a second-year student of the BCM college, Kottayam, was staying at St Pius convent.
The other accused, Sister Sephy, was sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5.5 lakh was slapped on her. Apart from a fine, Father Kottoor was also directed to pay Rs 1 lakh for trespassing. The court had also sentenced the duo to seven years of imprisonment for tampering with evidence.
Another accused in the case, Fr Jose Puthrikkayil, was discharged earlier following lack of evidence.
According to the prosecution, Kottoor and Father Poothrikkayil, another accused who was let go due to lack of evidence, allegedly had an illicit relationship with Sephy, also an inmate of the convent.
On the night of March 27, 1992, Abhaya allegedly saw Kottoor and Sephy in a compromising position, following which the three accused hacked her with an axe and threw her into the well, the CBI had said in its charge sheet. The accused had been arrested in 2008 and released on bail by the Kerala High Court a year later.