British girl’s death: lookout notice for fellow touristMarch 12th, 2008 - 6:57 pm ICT by admin
Panaji, March 12 (IANS) The Goa police probing the suspected killing of 15-year-old British tourist Scarlette Keeling have issued a lookout notice for British tourist Michael Mannion, identified as “Masala” in the local media, who claimed to be an eyewitness to the crime but fled citing fears about his safety. The police said a lookout notice for Mannion was issued “some time ago”, but it received publicity only now. The British High Commission also was contacted on the whereabouts of the person the police believed could be a crucial witness in the case.
“We are on the lookout for Michael Mannion, who was present in the bar shack and the beach where Scarlette’s semi-naked body was found three weeks ago,” Inspector General (IG) of Goa, Kishen Kumar told IANS Wednesday.
Kumar added that Mannion fled from India, was currently in London and had approached British authorities claiming he knew a lot about the murder of Scarlette. Manion has, however, refused to depose in India fearing for his life.
“We want to record his statement and if he wants we will also provide him security,” Kumar said.
The police official asserted that Mannion, who was a regular at the bar shack and is popularly known as “Masala”, holds vital information that will help the police unravel the mysterious death. He added that Mannion had seen people in the shack sexually abusing Scarlette.
The Goa police two days back arrested the barman of the shack, Samson D’Souza, who was remanded to 14 days’ police custody.
Keeling was found dead early morning Feb 18 at the Anjuna beach village, known since the 1960s as a major hippy haunt, where late night parties are said to be fuelled by narcotics during the November-February tourist season.
Nearly 300,000 foreign tourists are among the 2.5 million tourists that end up in India’s holiday state of Goa. Each year some 40-50 deaths among tourists are reported.
While some are routine ones caused by accidents and ill health, many have remained unexplained and are suspected to be linked to the narcotics trade, for which a part of the Goan coastal belt is notorious.
Goa Chief Minister Digambar Kamat has ruled out the possibility of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probing the Keeling death, saying he had full faith in the police team investigating the matter.
The mother of the girl, Fiona Mackennon, has however questioned the need for an ossification test on the body, which the police say would help establish whether the girl was really 15 years of age.
In other developments, two local young men whom Keeling was thought to be with a few hours before her death have sought anticipatory bail.
Various versions of what happened to Keeling in her last hours have emerged in the media, with allegations of drug abuse surfacing repeatedly.
The police and authorities here have been embarrassed in explaining why such abuse of narcotics continues unabated along a part of Goa’s coast and also why they sought to pass off the death as accidental.
Defence lawyers for others who were known to the girl have put out versions, which sought to maintain the innocence of their clients.