Officials wonder why police did not seek custody of rape accused

November 12th, 2008 - 4:13 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Nov 12 (IANS) The move by the police in the children’s court not to press for police custody and instead seek remand to judicial custody for Goa education minister’s son Rohit Monserrate in the rape case of a 14-year-old German girl has baffled officials here.President of the Goa Children’s Court Desmond D’Costa in the bail order of Rohit said: “The accused has been produced for further remand and the police are seeking his remand to judicial custody, thereby indicating that his custodial interrogation is not required.”

The move by the Goa police to seek judicial custody, instead of police custody for Rohit led to him being granted conditional bail.

“Considering that the presence of the accused in custody is not required for investigations and custodial interrogation, I hold that the applicant is entitled to be released on conditional bail,” D’Costa has stated in his order.

According to Aires Rodrigues, counsel for the mother of the minor German girl, such slip-ups are not isolated in nature. “I have always maintained that the state machinery had conspired to ensure that Rohit does not stay behind bars,” Rodrigues told IANS.

Police officials said that the move not to seek police custody in a rape case was shocking.

“The basic difference is that you cannot interrogate an accused with the same effectiveness when he is in judicial custody. To seek judicial custody for a rape accused, in a case where the police team has not even gathered sufficient evidence is baffling. Rohit was in police custody for less than a week,” a senior police officer told IANS Tuesday.

Superintendent of Police (North) Bosco George told mediapersons Tuesday that the police had still not recovered the mobile handsets which Rohit had used to communicate with the minor girl.

The Goa Police have come in for severe criticism for their handling of this high-profile rape case, in which Rohit, son of Goa Education minister Atanasio Monserrate and Warren Alemao, a nephew of two other state cabinet ministers Churchill and Joaquim Alemao, have been named as accused by the German mother, who has been living in India on long term visa for the last 13 year.

To begin with, the police refused to register a complaint for 12 days and finally registered an FIR only after the German Consul General Walter Stechel wrote to the Goa Chief Secretary J.P. Singh, asking him to vigorously pursue the case.

Immediately after the registration of the complaint, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the state police had started probing the complainant’s financial assets and asked the Foreigners Registration Office to start an enquiry against the German researcher.

George, the supervisory officer in the case, maintained that Rohit would be arrested only after the victim gave her statement.

Rohit, in whose name the police had issued a Look Out Notice, went missing, only to mysteriously resurface at George’s office, a few hours before the minor recorded her statement with a local magistrate.

Rohit again went missing, only to surrender to the Calangute police accompanied by his father in a car having a red-beacon light, about half an hour before the police filed a status report of the case before the Panaji Bench of the Bombay High Court.

Chief justice of the Bombay High Court Swatanter Kumar and Justice S.A. Bobade had earlier taken cognizance on its own of the case and had observed in their order that “if reports in the newspapers are correct even to some extent, then they demonstrate the apathy of the police machinery towards the rule of law.”

The Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court asked the police to update them Nov 20 about the investigations conducted in the case.

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