CBI questions bishop in Abhaya murder case


Kochi : Sleuths of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) Monday questioned Archbishop Mathew Mulekattu for over two hours here to elicit more information about the murder of Sister Abhaya 16 years ago.

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Mulekattu is the head of the Kottayam diocese of the Knanaya Catholic Church under which Abhaya served as a nun. Abhaya, a resident of Pious X Hostel, was found dead in the well of the Kottayam convent March 27, 1992.

On Saturday, the CBI team was in Kottayam to question the now retired bishop Kuriakose Kunnasery, who was the serving bishop when the murder took place.

On Nov 19, the 13th team of the CBI set up to probe the case – after 12 earlier teams failed – arrested Father Jose Putarika, 56, a former Malayalam professor at the Kottayam college where Abhaya studied, Father Thomas Kottor, 61, the Diocesan chancellor of the Catholic Church at Kottayam and Sister Seffi, who was a resident of the convent when the incident took place.

The Kerala High Court, while hearing a plea of the three held, Monday rapped the CBI for committing procedural errors in effecting the arrest of the three accused.

Even though the CBI counsel told the court that the arrests were made on the testimony of witnesses and circumstantial evidence, the judge asked the investigating agency to file all the case documents before the court Wednesday.

Bishop Mulekattu, while heading the Sunday mass, was critical of the manner in which the CBI had gone about the case and demanded a fair probe.

At the 50 odd churches run by the Knanaya Catholic church, the ‘pastoral letter’ read during the Sunday mass asked people to pray for the two priests and the nun arrested.

The Knanaya Church is attached to the Catholic Church and has about 200,000 members.

The CBI had concluded in November 1996 that Sister Abhaya’s death was a homicide but the murderer remained untraced. The Kerala police had earlier dismissed the case as suicide.