Crime
Facing trial in this notorious case are Catholic priest Thomas M. Kottoor, the first accused and a nun, Stephy, who is the third accused.

The trial in the 27-year-old Sister Abhaya murder case finally began at the CBI special court in Thiruvananthapuram on Thursday.

Facing trial in this notorious case are Catholic priest Thomas M. Kottoor, the first accused and a nun, Stephy, who is the third accused.

Since Stephy was not present in the court when it commenced business on Thursday, the case was postponed to August 5 with the court pointing out that there should be no more delays.

The second accused in the case, another Catholic priest Jose Poothrikkayil, however, was discharged by this court last year.

It was in April this year that the Kerala HC said that Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Stephy, the first and third accused in the case will have to undergo trial. 

A bench headed by Justice Sunil Thomas gave the order after considering the discharge plea filed by both the accused. In March 2018, the accused had filed a discharge petition in CBI Special Court saying that evidence against them was fabricated. But the CBI court had then dismissed the discharge plea. It was following this that the two accused had challenged it in the High Court.  

Abhaya, an inmate of the Pius X convent in Kottayam, was found dead in the well within their compound on March 27, 1992.

The case has dragged on this far with, initially, both the Crime Branch and the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) dismissing it as a suicide, but public activist Joemon Puthenpurackal formed an Acton Council and pursued the case.

The turnaround came after Puthenpurackal managed to get the case reopened another time, following which the 13th batch of CBI officials arrested the three accused, including Poothrikkayil on November 19, 2008.

Poothrikkayil was formerly a Malayalam professor at the Kottayam college where Abhaya studied, while Kottoor was the Diocesan chancellor of the Catholic Church at Kottayam, and Seffi a resident of the convent where the incident took place.

The three accused secured bail on January 1, 2009.

(With inputs from IANS)