Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Indian priest and nun get life for historic murder of convent sister

Investigations into the young nun's death have been a highly contentious issue in India ever since her body was discovered in a well.

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A Catholic priest and nun have been sentenced to life in prison for the killing of another member of their convent in India nearly 30 years ago, reports the BBC.

Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy were convicted on Tuesday of murdering 21-year-old Sister Abhaya in 1992 and destroying evidence of the killing.

The pair killed her after she came across them engaged in illicit sexual activity.

Local police originally thought the young nun had taken her own life, but further investigations were launched following suspicions about her death from family and campaigners.

Abhaya’s body was found in a well at St Pius X convent in Kottayam, a city in southern India.

A court ruled that one morning in March 1992 she awoke in the early hours and walked into the convent’s kitchen to fetch water from a fridge, and caught Kottoor and Sephy in a compromising position.

Fearing she would disclose her discovery, the pair killed her and disposed of her body in the well, the court ruled.

Investigations into the young nun’s death have been a highly contentious issue in India ever since her body was discovered.

India’s Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) took over the case in 1993 because of public outrage at the perceived lack of justice, and found she had been murdered, but they did not identify any suspects.

Following a high court order in 2008, the CBI renewed its investigation and arrested and charged Kottoor and Sephy. A lengthy trial followed.

Sephy, 55, has not publicly commented on the ruling, but Kottoor, 69, has insisted he was innocent.

“I have done no wrong. God is with me,” he told local media outside court on Wednesday, when he was sentenced.

“Sister Abhaya’s case has finally got justice. She will rest in peace,” said human rights activist Jomon Puthenpurackal, who has campaigned for years for justice for the young nun.

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