Kottayam Church to sue Central Bureau of Investigation over sex allegations
Probing Sr Abhaya murder case, CBI says an archbishop was having an affair with a nun
In a shocking revelation, Central Bureau of Investigation, has stated in the designated magistrate court in Thiruvananthapuram court that the former catholic archbishop of Kottayam Kuriakose Kunnassery had a intimate relationship with a professor nun. The investigating agency was quoting a witness in the Sister Abhaya murder case. Local television channels and Malayalam newspapers flashed the news, getting a swift reaction from the church. Church officials have termed the statement is baseless and is a deliberate move to malign the church and its senior leader.
The CBI in its affidavit dated 23 July filed against the accused priests and a nun in the controversial Sister Abhaya murder case revealed in the court that Professor Thressiamma, who is a witness in the murder case had disclosed that former Archbishop Kuriakose Kunnassery of Kottayam archdiocese had had a sexual relationship with a Sister Lousy, an inmate of Pius Tenth Convent, Kottayam where Sister Abhaya was found dead on 27 March 1992. The affidavit alleges the accused priests and nun facilitated the meeting between the archbishop and the nun in the convent.
According to the affidavit filed by CBI, Professor Thressiamma who was teaching at Church-run BCM college, has given a statement to the investigation agency about the illicit relationship. The now 84-year-old Archbishop retired in January 2006. The CBI has been investigating the case since 1993, taking over from the Kerala Police crime branch which had concluded that 19-year-old Sister Abhaya had committed suicide. Initially, the CBI had also submitted a closure report in the court designated by the CBI, endorsing the investigation done by crime branch. However, the court had returned the closure report demanding a detailed probe into Sister Abhaya’s death and started monitoring the investigation in the case.
Sixteen years later, the CBI arrested Father Jose Puthrukkayil, Father Thomas Kottoor and Sister Sephy on 19 November 2009, they were chargesheeted by the court. The accused filed discharge petitions before the designated CBI court in Thiruvananthapuram pleading that the CBI had not found any evidences against them. While hearing the discharge petition filed by the accused, the investigation agency objected to the plea and filed its own affidavit listing the involvement of the accused in Sister Abhaya murder case. The affidavit contains allegations against the former Archbishop and the nun.
Church officials have objected to the allegations made by the CBI in the court. Father Abraham Parambettu, official spokesperson of Kottayam Archdiocese told TEHELKA that the church will file a defamation case against the CBI for making “baseless and wild allegations against a respected senior church leader”. “We are pained and shocked. It’s a deliberate move to malign the Church and the church leader,” Father Parambettu said.
According to him, “The CBI was trying to defame the church leaders, after failing to produce clinching evidences against the accused. The CBI has been probing the case for 19 years and is now making wild allegations against not only the accused but also Church leaders. We have cooperated with the investigation. Their statement is false and defamatory. The identity of the nun is stated as ‘Sister Lousy’. No nun in that name taught in BCM college or the convent when Sister Abhaya found dead.”
Investigations by TEHELKA reveal that Sister Lousy never worked in BCM college or stayed in convent. There was one sister Lucy who had taught in BCM college during that period. It is not clear if the CBI has wrongly put her name as Sister Lousy. CBI officials declined to comment on the affidavit as it’s sub-judice. The CBI approached the court six times seeking permission to wind up investigation. Later CBI filed an affidavit in the court stating that Sister Abhaya was murdered in the convent but, it could not proceed against the culprits as vital evidence had been destroyed. The CBI court objected the report and directed the investigation agency to file detailed investigation using scientific methods.
While objecting the discharge petition, CBI stated that the agency got scientific proof against the accused. The accused — Father Thomas Kottoor, Father Jose Puthrukkayil and Sister Sephy — filed a discharge petition before the designated court seeking intervention of the court to stop CBI from framing false charges against them.
According to affidavit filed by CBI senior prosecutor VN Anilkumar, “Sister Abhaya had found both priests and nun engaging in a sexual relationship in the nun’s room in the convent”. The CBI conducted narco tests on the accused, the Supreme Court later declared narco tests as illegal and not part of evidences admissible in the court in criminal cases. The affidavit states that “the forensic doctors who conducted medical examinations of the accused Sister Sephy stated that the nun had had frequent sexual exposures in the past and tests found that she had undergone hymen replacement surgery after the murder took place. The CBI had enclosed statements made by Dr Rema and Dr Lalithambika Karunakaran, forensic surgeons at the Alappuzha Medical College in the annexure list.
Jeemon Jacob is Bureau Chief, South with Tehelka.