Abhaya murder casts shadow on Sunday mass

November 23rd, 2008 - 2:33 pm ICT by IANS  

Kottayam (Kerala), Nov 23 (IANS) Two priests and a nun under arrest and a retired bishop being questioned for two hours — the murder of Sister Abhaya 16 years ago cast a grim shadow over Sunday mass in Kerala with the Knanaya Catholic church asking for a transparent probe in a letter read out to parishioners. At the 50 odd churches run by the Knanaya Catholic church, the ‘pastoral letter’ asked the people to pray for the two priests and the nun arrested last week by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) for the murder of Sister Abhaya who belonged to the same church.

Abhaya, a resident of Pious X Hostel near here, was found dead in the well of the Kottayam convent March 27, 1992.

The church was also shattered after the CBI Saturday questioned former bishop Kuriakose Kunnasery for two hours to elicit more details in the case. Kunnasery, who is now past 80 years and retired, was the bishop of the diocese when the murder took place.

The letter from the church states that those now accused should be treated as innocent till the truth comes out.

“It was we the church that first requested for the detailed probe to come out with the truth of the death of Abhaya and we now request that the ongoing probe should be transparent and a clean one. The accused should be revealed and we will not take any sides because the truth has to come out,” read the letter.

The Knanaya Church is attached to the Catholic Church and has about 200,000 members.

The CBI had concluded in November 1996 that Sister Abhaya’s death was a homicide but the murderer remained untraced. The Kerala police had earlier dismissed the case as suicide.

On Wednesday, the 13th team of the CBI set up to probe the case - after 12 earlier teams failed - arrested Father Jose Putarika, 56, a former Malayalam professor at the Kottayam college where Abhaya studied, Father Thomas Kottor, 61, the Diocesan chancellor of the Catholic Church at Kottayam and Sister Seffi, a nun who was a resident of the convent when the incident took place.

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