Both were sentenced under IPC Section 302 (murder). Main accused Thomas Kotoor will have to undergo double life-term for trespassing into the convent (Section 449) but he can undergo both sentences concurrently, the court said.
The main accused Thomas Kotoor and Sister Sephy sought commutation but the prosecution opposed their contention saying they deserved no sympathy.
Speaking to media, Jomon Puthanpurakkal, who has been fighting for justice in the case for the last 28 years, said, “I am the happiest man today. Both got what they deserved. It is time for the church to do an introspection whether they should shield people like them or not.”
Former CBI officer Verghese P Thomas, who first investigated the case, expressed his satisfaction at the verdict. Verghese was the first office who found that Abhaya was murdered. He was later forced to resign from the service after senior officials putting pressure on him to write off the death as a suicide.
When most witnesses had turned hostile during the trial, a small-time robber, Raju a crucial witness in the case, stood firm in his testimony. He was on the premises of the convent for stealing areca nuts when the incident took place. He told CBI officers that he saw two priests and a nun at the convent around the time of Abhaya’s death. He said he was promised crores of rupees to change his statement but he opted to stick to what he said.