Scarlett’s mother given last chance to appear in Goa court

December 4th, 2008 - 11:48 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Dec 4 (IANS) Slain British teenager Scarlett Keeling’s mother Fiona Mackeown, facing charges of negligence towards her daughter, has been given a final chance to appear for a hearing on Friday by the Department of Women and Child Development, failing which ex-parte action would be taken against her. The notice seeking her presence was issued by the director of the Women and Child Development, a quasi-judicial authority, to her lawyer Vikram Verma.

Fiona was slapped with charges of negligence by a local NGO Utt Goenkara, which claimed that the mother’s negligence was responsible for the death of her 15-year-old daughter, Scarlett.

The complaint claimed that Fiona was holidaying with her friends at Gokarna, in Karnataka, and had left her daughter in the company of an adult stranger in February, when she died under mysterious circumstances.

Fiona was charged with violating sections 8(1), 8(2) and 8(12) of the Goa Children’s Act, 2003, a legislation which specifically covers crimes against children.

Speaking to IANS, Fiona’s lawyer Vikram Verma claimed that Fiona would be unable to attend the hearing as there was no substance in the case pending before the department of WCD. “Fiona will be unable to attend the hearing. I will be representing my client.”

“There is no substance in the case because even the Goa Children’s Court has not made out charges under the sections mentioned in this complaint and the high court is also looking into the matter,” Verma told IANS Thursday.

The department of WCD had earlier sent two notices to Fiona, who is currently in Britain, seeking her presence for the hearing. Fiona had ignored both notices.

Scarlett Keeling’s body was found in a half naked state at Anjuna beach in February. The police had earlier tried to dismiss the case as a suicide. But Fiona’s subsequent campaign for justice had attracted international spotlight and exposed Goa tourism’s ugly underbelly.

Fiona has claimed that the drug mafia in Goa was involved in her daughter’s murder and had even named Goa Home Minister Ravi Naik’s son Roy as a suspect, a charge the minister refuted.

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