Two detained amid police flip-flop over Russian teenager’s death (Lead)

May 13th, 2009 - 12:07 am ICT by IANS  

Panaji, May 12 (IANS) Amid inconsistent police versions about the cause of death of a Russian teenager whose dismembered body was found along the railway tracks in Goa, two people were detained Tuesday for their suspected involvement in the case.
“We have detained Vinay Haldankar alias Vinnie and Vardhaman Simepurushkar for an enquiry (into the 19-year-old Elena Sukhonova’s death),” a police spokesperson said.

Vinnie is employed at a shack that Sukhonova used to frequent, while Simepurushkar is a taxi driver who the police claim had dropped the victim at the Thivim railway station Saturday night.

Sukhonova’s mutilated body was found May 9 on the railway track near Revora village, about 30 km from here.

Police said Sukhonova had hired the taxi driven by Simepurushkar from outside a popular pub in Calangute.

“We have also sent a police team to Himchal Pradesh to track down Birendra Singh, who was one the waiters employed at Sun City resort in Baga who was in constant touch with the deceased,” the spokesman said.

“We had to question both Vinnie and Simepurushkar about some finer details about the chronology of events. Vinnie in particular, because he was missing after the news of the girl’s death hit the newspapers,” a police official said.

Mystery surrounds the death of the teenager, with police rapidly switching their versions.

Superintendent of Police Tony Fernandes Tuesday said the Sukhonova died due to an accident, as stated in the autopsy report.

“She died because of an accidental fall from the train. The post mortem report has confirmed it,” he said.

Fernandes chided the media for asking questions related to the case. “Should I file a murder case because you say so? Why do you want a murder case registered?” he asked.

The police officer Monday said Sukhonova’s death was purely accidental but by the evening he retracted the statement saying the “police were examining all options”.

The autopsy report received by the police Monday only states that the death was caused “as a result of blunt force impact by object or surface consequent to being run over”.

This was not enough reason to surmise that Elena died in an accident, advocate Vikram Varma, who represents the Russian consulate, maiantained.

Evidence suggests that the body had been cut by the wheels of a train “but it is not conclusive proof of an accident”, Varma said, suspecting foul play.

A police statement Monday said Elena’s death could be accidental and that the Russian could have fallen from the Netravati Express train which had left the Thivim railway station around 7 a.m.

On the same afternoon, Fernandes did a complete volte face after a Konkan Railway Corporation Limited (KRCL) spokesperson said it was impossible for a passenger to fall under the wheels of the same train.

Fernandes then told reporters that “all options were open” to the police and did not rule out foul play in Elena’s death.

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