Thursday, September 17, 2009

Narco-tape Shows Priests, nun Admitting to Crime

Original article
VR Jayaraj | Kochi

The tapes of the narco-analyses in the sensational Sr Abhaya murder case of Kerala came out on Monday, showing the accused, two priests and a nun of the powerful Knanaya Catholic Church, admitting to their crime of murdering the 21-year-old nun.

The recordings contained in an 80-minute CD also showed that the two priests, Fr Thomas M Kottoor (58) and Fr Jose Puthrukayil (56), and nun Sr Seffy (43) had a relationship between them. This was perhaps for the first time the recordings of narco-analsyes in a murder case coming out in the open.

The CD of the narco-analyses came out in the media after the CBI probing the case handed it over to the defendants along with certain other documents at the Chief Judicial Magistrate Court, Ernakulam on Monday noon. Fr Kottoor, Fr Puthrukayil and Sr Seffy, the first, second and third accused respectively, were subjected to the analyses at the Central Forensic Sciences Laboratory in November, 2007.

The Kottayam Archdiocese of the Knanaya Catholic Church objected to the telecast of the tapes by news channels saying this was an act of gross violation of human rights while the CJM Court reportedly instructed several television channels not to continue with the telecast as the case was still in the court.

The recordings indeed carried signs of editing as the defendants had alleged, but legal experts said that the revelations the accused had made during the procedure were perfectly legible and enough for a probe agency to draw conclusions. The CBI case was that the three accused had struck Sr Abhaya on the back of her head with a blunt object and had pushed her in the well of the St Pius X Convent, Kottayam, after she had seen them in immoral postures. Sr Abhaya’s body was found in the well of the convent on the morning of May 27, 1992.

The narco-tape clearly shows Fr Kottoor, Fr Puthrukayil and Sr Seffi, under the effect of the truth serum, giving legible statements about how they had killed Sr Abhaya and the circumstances in which they had done this.

All the three accused are seen admitting that there was a relationship between them, and Sr Seffi clearly says that she was in love with both the priests while Fr Puthrukayil admits to having touched the nun’s body.

The statements of both Fr Puthrukayil and Sr Seffi are corroborative as they say that they had struck Sr Abhaya on the back of her neck with (the back of) an axe. “It was an axe (kodali) or a hammer (chuttika),” says Fr Puthrukayil, dazed under the effect of the truth serum while Sr Seffi says it was indeed an axe.

To a question, Sr Seffi can be seen telling the expert, Dr S Malini, then assistant director of the lab (and an interpreter), that blood had come out on the neck of the nun after they struck her. On the tape, Sr Seffi is also seen admitting that it was she who struck Sr Abhaya with the axe. The subjects also can be seen admitting that they had thrown Sr Abhaya in the well after she was (thought to be) dead. The priest is seen adding that he had escaped from the convent after the incident by jumping over the compound wall.

The tape also shows Sr Seffi telling the examiner very clearly that she had opened the door of the kitchen in the back of the convent for the two priests, with whom she was in love all the while, on the night of the incident. Fr Puthrukayil also can be seen admitting that he was in love with Sr Seffi, and that this love had come “from within my heart”.

The CD of the narco-analyses was still a subject of controversy as it had been proved that the recordings contained extensive editing. The defendants’ counsel had argued that this made the tapes untrustworthy but the CBI and the lab were of the stand that only unnecessary parts of the procedure had been edited out. After the tapes were out in the media, legal experts said that the genuineness of the recordings need not be doubted though editing had indeed been done.

The CBI had earlier submitted in the court that a Supreme Court judge, a devout member of the same church to which the murdered nun and the accused belonged, had watched the tapes on May 24, 2008 when he was the Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, according to Dr Malini. She had also said that the judge had praised her for the work. The SC justice had not so far denied this.

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