Court to rule on 2008 Bri­tish school­girl’s death

The Myanmar Times - - World -

AN In­dian judge will fi­nally de­liver a ver­dict to­mor­row on two men over the rape and death of Bri­tish school­girl Scar­lett Keel­ing in Goa in 2008, af­ter years of de­lays and con­tro­versy.

Fif­teen-year-old Keel­ing’s bruised and half-naked body was found on pop­u­lar An­juna Beach in the In­dian re­sort state eight years ago.

Her death made head­lines world­wide, draw­ing at­ten­tion to the dark side of a tourist des­ti­na­tion that has long been a hang­out for Western hip­pies and later high­light­ing In­dia’s slug­gish jus­tice sys­tem.

Po­lice dis­missed the teenager’s death as an ac­ci­dent but opened a mur­der probe af­ter Keel­ing’s mother, Fiona MacKe­own, pushed for a sec­ond au­topsy which proved she had been drugged and raped.

Sev­eral weeks af­ter the at­tack, lo­cal men Sam­son D’Souza and Placido Car­valho were ar­rested and charged with cul­pa­ble homi­cide not amount­ing to mur­der, us­ing force to out­rage a woman’s mod­esty and ad­min­is­ter­ing drugs with in­tent to harm.

The move an­gered the vic­tim’s fam­ily who had wanted the de­fen­dants tried for rape and mur­der, but of­fi­cers from In­dia’s Cen­tral Bu­reau of In­ves­ti­ga­tion (CBI) said they lacked suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to in­dict them on stronger charges.

The trial be­gan at a chil­dren’s court in Goa’s state cap­i­tal Panaji in 2010 but has been plagued by nu­mer­ous de­lays, in­clud­ing in­fre­quent hear­ings due to a back­log of cases and a pub­lic pros­e­cu­tor with­draw­ing from pro­ceed­ings.

Fi­nal ar­gu­ments were heard at the end of last month with the pros­e­cu­tor ar­gu­ing that dozens of bruises on Keel­ing’s body were ev­i­dence of a strug­gle. De­fence lawyers, how­ever, said her death was ac­ci­den­tal.

Ms MacKe­own was only able to bury her daugh­ter’s body more than two years af­ter the mur­der, when it was fi­nally re­turned to her by author­i­ties af­ter a long bu­reau­cratic wran­gle.

Photo: EPA

Fiona Macke­own has per­sisted in her quest for jus­tice.

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