Priests, nun accused in Abhaya murder case given bail


Kochi (Kerala) : The Kerala High Court Thursday freed on bail two priests and a nun, who are the accused in the sensational Sister Abhaya murder case.

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The body of Sister Abhaya, a resident of Pius X Hostel, was found in the well of the Kottayam convent March 27, 1992.

The three accused were arrested Nov 19 by a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) team – the 13th after 12 earlier teams failed to crack the case.

Jose Putarika is a former professor at the Kottayam College where Abhaya studied. Thomas M.Kottor was the Diocesan chancellor of the Catholic Church at Kottayam, and Sister Seffi was a resident of the convent when the incident took place.

The three accused had approached the high court for bail, which was granted by Justice K. Hema, on furnishing a bond of Rs. 100,000 each and also two sureties.

The judge also asked the three not to use telephones while on bail and to hand over their passports to the police. They have also been asked to inform the investigation officer about where they would be staying.

Justice Hema also asked the CBI to appoint a senior official to go ahead with the investigation.

The bail for the three accused comes less then a week after the CBI informed the Chief Judicial Magistrate’s (CJM) court at Ernakulam, where the case is being tried, that it was Seffi who had hit Abhaya thrice with an axe in the room next to the kitchen of the convent.

Later, the unconscious Abhaya was dropped into the well of the convent, the agency said and filed a remand report stating more arrests would be made in the case shortly.

The CBI informed the court Thursday that the Knanaya Catholic Church, to which the three arrested belong, has been trying its best to influence the investigation.

Meanwhile, Abhaya’s father Thomas said he would now approach the Supreme Court against the granting of bail to the three accused.