Hannah Foster murder trial begins, Kohli denies charges

October 15th, 2008 - 11:40 am ICT by IANS  

London, Oct 15 (IANS) It is a sordid drama spanning five years and two countries, but the law has finally caught up with Indian Maninder Pal Singh Kohli who is being tried In Britain for raping and murdering 17-year-old Hannah Foster in 2003.Kohli, 40, who had escaped to India immediately after the murder, was extradited to Britain last year. He went on trial at the Winchester Crown Court Tuesday but denies all charges.

On March 14, 2003 Hannah, a high school A-level student, was walking to her Southampton home after a night-out with her friends when she was bundled into a van. Her body was found in the city’s outskirts three days later. Her handbag was recovered from a recycling plant in Portsmouth.

The handbag contained Hannah’s mobile phone, which gave the police clinching evidence of her fate. While in the van with the kidnapper, Hannah had dialled the emergency services number 999, hoping someone would hear their conversation and rescue her, reports The Guardian.

Unfortunately for her, a system to prevent accidentally dialled emergency phone lines discarded the call. However, as all calls are recorded, there existed a recording of her call. Police heard bits of conversation between Hannah and the kidnapper who spoke “with a deep accent”. Her parents identified her voice.

In the early morning of March 15, Hannah’s mother was worried not finding her daughter home. She called Hannah’s mobile, but there was no response.

The same morning Kohli had returned to work in a sandwich factory as usual. He, however, asked a friend for money to go to India to see his ill mother. On March 18, a day after Hannah’s handbag was recovered, Kohli flew to India, leaving his wife and two children behind.

The police remained clueless about Kohli’s whereabouts, although they had recovered his van. On March 26, 2003 a Crimewatch appeal issued in the media caught the attention of Kohli’s employer who, having noticed his behaviour and sudden departure around the same time as the crime, called the police.

DNA samples of Kohli taken from his wife and children matched with the DNA marks on Hannah’s body and his van.

An arrest warrant was issued on April 3, 2003, and more than a year later, on July 15 2004, Kohli was captured by Indian police and was finally extradited from India to Britain on July 28, 2007.

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