Jailing of killer priest, nun fuels crisis in India’s Catholic Church


Bringing a dramatic end to a nearly three decade old case, a court in the southern Indian state of Kerala has convicted a Catholic priest and a nun of murdering a convent member. The ruling has contributed to a growing crisis in India’s Catholic Church.

A special court of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), a federal investigating agency, sentenced Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy to life in prison after finding them guilty of the murder of Sister Abhaya, who died 28 years ago in the town of Kottayam.

Special CBI Judge K Sanal Kumar gave a double life sentence to Father Kottoor, and imposed a fine of 7,200 euros (650,000 rupees) for destroying evidence.

Justice at last

Sister Abhaya, who was aged 19, was murdered after she discovered Father Kottoor and Sister Sephy engaged in sexual activity. Her body was then dumped in a well.

Her death became a cause celèbre after it was initially dismissed as a suicide by the state police and crime branch, and the CBI later concluded that it was murder.

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