Sixteen years after the crime was committed, the CBI arrested two priests and a nun in the Sister Abhaya murder case and presented them in court on Wednesday.
Father Thomas M Kottur and Father Dr E Jose Puthrikayil were arrested on Tuesday while Sister Stefi was picked up on Wednesday. All three accused had undergone narco-analysis tests in Bangalore some months ago when they reportedly admitted to the crime. They were produced before the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Ernakulam, who remanded them in CBI custody till December 2.
Apart from the narcoanalysis test results, the CBI has also taken a fresh statement from Sanju P Mathew who lives near the Pius X Convent Hostel in Kottayam where the body of Sister Abhaya was found. This statement which was recorded by the First Class Judicial Magistrate on Tuesday was passed on to the Ernakulam CJM court on Wednesday. The CBI has not divulged any other fresh information to the court though SP Ashokkumar told newsmen that the agency had evidence in its possession. The official said that revealing anything further would hamper the future course of their probe.
Nothing much is known about Mathew's connection with the case except that he was in college when Sister Abhaya died. Mathew, whose statement is believed to be the only "hard evidence" which led to the arrests was subject to polygraph and brain-mapping tests by the CBI earlier. The Kottayam Archdiocese Jagratha Samithi has expressed doubts about the "fresh revelations" in Mathew's statements that enabled the CBI to carry out the arrests.
The body of Abhaya, a 21-year-old inmate of the Knanaya Catholic Church-run Pius X Convent hostel was found in a well on the convent premises in March 1992. The murder was written off by the State police as an accident. From thereon, it has been a massive cover-up effort. Cops manipulated the FIR, the first photo of the body disappeared from their custody and in a startling incident, the nun's diary and her dress were also destroyed later.
Though the CBI managed to conclude it as a case of murder, the six previous teams of the agency which investigated it separately could not lay its hand on a shred of evidence that pinpointed the culprit.
Kandhamal court rejects rape victims plea
The nun who was allegedly raped during the Hindu-Christian riots in Orissa's Kandhamal district failed to appear before a local court in the district on Wednesday for a test identification (TI) parade of the accused in the case. The sub-divisional judicial magistrate court at Baliguda in Kandhamal district had directed the nun on November 10 to appear before it on November 19 for the TI parade.
However, the nun's lawyer filed a petition in the court on Wednesday stating that she was not able to reach Kandhamal because of health and security reasons. The petition also sought the shifting of the TI parade to New Delhi. The court, however, rejected the plea.
Turning down the nun's appeal, the court asked the crime branch to submit a report on the progress of the investigation by November 24.
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