Knanaya Catholic Church says arrested priests, nun innocent

December 9th, 2008 - 5:54 pm ICT by IANS  

Kottayam (Kerala), Dec 9 (IANS) The Knanaya Catholic Church, which is in the thick of controversy after two of its senior priests and a nun were arrested in connection with the murder of Sister Abhaya, said Tuesday the three are innocent. “Our position has not changed and even though we are very particular that the truth should come out, we are of the opinion that the three arrested are innocent,” Joseph Pandaraserry, the assistant head of the church’s Kottayam diocese said at a prayer meeting Tuesday.

Close to 500 people including priests, nuns and common people took part in the prayer meeting held at a church here.

The body of Sister Abhaya, a resident of Pius X Hostel, was found in the well of the Kottayam convent March 27, 1992.

A team from the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) — the 13th after 12 earlier teams failed to crack the case — Nov 19 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, who was a resident of the convent when the incident took place.

Already the CBI has questioned Archbishop Mathew Mulekattu for over two hours last month and retired bishop Kuriakose Kunnasery, who held the office, when the murder took place.

The meeting also came down heavily on the CBI when as part of their investigation they conducted a virginity test at the Government Alappuzha Medical College last month without the consent of Sister Seffi.

“They are free to do their investigation and it should not be based on looking at the face but they should have not violated the rights of people,” said Fr Paul Thelekatt, spokesperson of the Syro Malabar church.

Meanwhile at Kochi, the CBI told the Kerala High Court that they have not violated any rights of those who have been asked to come for questioning.

The clarification came in response to the complaints raised by the convent officials, including 18 nuns, who said that they were being harassed by CBI officials after being summoned for questioning.

The judge posted further hearing on the case for next Monday.

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