A Catholic priest convicted in the Sister Abhaya murder case moved the Kerala High Court on Monday, challenging the verdict by the Special CBI court, Thiruvananthapuram, awarding him double life sentence. Father Thomas Kottoor, currently in jail, alleged that the order of the conviction and sentence passed by the Special CBI Court was "absolutely improper and incorrect".
He submitted that it was "opposed to law and contrary to the facts, circumstances and evidence and hence it is unsustainable". The priest alleged that the trial and conviction by the court in "all respects are vitiated by very grave illegalities and irregularities, like recording the evidence of witnesses, examination of the accused and permitting the prosecution to produce fresh documents and evidence even at the time of final arguments".
In its December 23 judgement, the CBI special court had awarded double life sentence to Father Kottoor and imposed a fine of Rs 6.5 lakh. The other accused, Sister Sephy, was sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of Rs 5.5 lakh was slapped on her.
The court had found them guilty of the murder of Sister Abhaya, who was found dead in a well in St Pius convent in Kottayam in 1992. The court had also sentenced the duo to seven years of imprisonment for tampering with evidence.
Abhaya (21), a second year student of the BCM college, Kottayam, was staying at St Pius convent. Another accused in the case, Fr Jose Puthrikkayil, was discharged earlier following lack of evidence.
According to the prosecution, Kottoor and Poothrikkayil allegedly had an illicit relationship with Sephy, also an inmate of the convent. On the night of March 27, 1992, Abhaya allegedly saw Kottoor and Sephy in a compromising position, following which the three accused hacked her with an axe and threw her into the well, it had said in its charge sheet.
They were arrested in 2008 and released on bail by the Kerala High Court a year later.