THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: Fr Jose Poothrukkayil, an accused in the sensational Sr Abhaya murder case, has been acquitted by a special CBI court here on Wednesday. The court, however, rejected the discharge petitions of the other accused duo of Fr Thomas Kottoor and Sr Sephy, who will have to continue facing the trial.
The CBI court observed the prosecution had failed to come up with any substantial evidence or eye-witness account to prove Poothrukkayil visited the convent on the day of the incident. He was earlier arraigned as the second accused in the case.
Sr Abhaya, an inmate of Pius X convent in Kottayam, was found dead in the well on its premises on March 27, 1992. The local police and the Crime Branch, which initially probed the case, concluded it was a case of suicide. However, a year later, the case was reopened and taken up by the CBI after the Crime Branch’s investigation was found unsatisfactory. DySp Varghese P Thomas, who led the CBI investigation, had made a breakthrough in the case stating Sr Abhaya was murdered. In 2008, Fr Kottoor, Fr Poothrukkayil and Sr Sephy were arrested, but released on bail a few months later.
In 2009, the CBI submitted the charge sheet in the case, claiming strong evidence was available against the two priests and nun. The agency also claimed in its reports the priests and nun had physical relationship, and Sr Abhaya found them in a compromising position inside the hostel prompting them to murder her. Last month, CBI special judge J Nazar heard the arguments presented by the three accused in the discharge petitions. Crime Branch former DySP K T Michel, who was investigating the case initially, was recently arraigned in the case on charges of destroying evidence and hatching conspiracy.
Partially happy with the judgment: Fr Poothrukkayil
Kottayam: Fr Jose Poothrukkayil, who was acquitted from the sensational Sr Abhaya murder case by the Special CBI Court on Wednesday said he was partially happy with the court’s judgement. He was responding to the CBI court’s judgement here on Wednesday. He, however, said he would be completely happy only when other two persons, Fr Thomas M Kottoor and Sr Sefi, are also acquitted from the case as they were also innocent. “Thirty nine years have passed after I became a priest. I am always truthful to priesthood. I never did any kind of immature behaviour towards anybody. Also, I don’t have hatred towards anybody. I always strongly believe that God’s merciful eyes would follow us everywhere,” he said. Fr Poothrukkayil added he would disclose more details regarding the case after the court pronounces its final judgement in the case.