Scarlette’s mother flies home amid report of Goan ’scam’

March 31st, 2008 - 7:58 pm ICT by admin  

(Lead)

London, March 31 (IANS) Young Western women are being targeted in a “terrifying scam” on the beaches of Goa, a newspaper reported Monday as the mother of murdered teenager Scarlette Keeling left for Britain but vowed to return to expose an alleged drugs racket. “I’ve got to come back and see it through,” Fiona MacKeown said, vowing to return to the tourist haven to continue her campaign to expose the “nexus” of politicians, police and drug dealers.

MacKeown also said she wants a third post-mortem examination done on the body of her daughter, a 15-year-old who was raped and murdered on Goa’s Anjuna beach in February.

She said that if the state government turns down her request to transfer the case to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), she will challenge the decision at the high court.

She left after a feisty 40-day campaign to get to the bottom of her daughter’s murder - a crime that drew the world’s press to the Indian beach resort and exposed the seamier side of the Goan hippy paradise.

Two men have been charged with the rape and murder of Scarlette, but Mackeown insists there is a cover-up involving ‘higher ups’.

Meanwhile, a British newspaper Monday quoted people in Goa as saying young Western women have been the target of a “terrifying scam” to extort money and sex and that there had been 17 such cases in the past year alone.

Dealers tempt young female tourists to buy drugs at “a ridiculously low price” - say Rs.20 for a bag of hashish - before policemen acting in collusion swoop down and threaten to arrest them for possession of drugs. The tourist would be let off only in exchange for cash and sex, the Daily Mail reported.

These women, it said, may not have taken drugs before “but people are openly smoking hashish in the beach-side shacks and it seems harmless enough”.

The blackmailed tourists will pay up to $3,000 (around Rs.120,000) and “force themselves to submit while the officers have sex with them”, the paper said.

One Goan said: “We know it’s happening because the officers involved boast about it afterwards in the bars. They have rooms at the back of the shacks, which they use for the assaults. I’ve heard there have been about 17 cases in the past year.”

The paper quoted unnamed sources as denying reports that the Russian mafia were involved in the Goan drugs trade: “It’s run locally but, whenever things get a bit hot, those involved start talking about Russians or Israelis to divert attention. The drugs mafia cannot survive without protection from the police. The police collect huge amounts of money in bribes. The officers in turn are protected by the politicians. It goes right to the top.”

It said photographs of Scarlette’s body taken by her mother after a first post-mortem show 25 bruises inflicted before death, telling “a harrowing story”.

“Heavy bruising on her forehead indicates she was punched and her head smashed against the ground. A severe bruise on her lower leg is indicative, sources say, of an injury inflicted by a lathi (stick)… carried by policemen,” the paper said.

“One of the most telling indications of the brutality of the crime is the absence of Scarlette’s toe ring on her right foot. This type of wire ring - favoured by hippy travellers - is virtually impossible to remove and suggests that someone tugged at her foot with some violence.”

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