A year on, justice continues to elude Scarlett Keeling

February 18th, 2009 - 12:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Feb 18 (IANS) A year after British teenager Scarlett Keeling was found dead at Goa’s Anjuna beach, neither the police nor the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have made any significant headway in their respective investigations into the sensational murder.
Scarlett’s bruised and semi-naked body was found in Goa’s Anjuna beach just before dawn on Feb 18, 2008. Initially, Goa police said the 15-year-old had drowned.

However, Scarlett’s mother Fiona MacKeown campaigned for a second post-mortem, which concluded that Scarlett had more than 50 bruises and that she had been given the drugs ecstasy, cocaine and LSD on the night she died. Police then announced she had been raped and murdered.

The case was handed over to the CBI last year after Fiona accused police officials of mishandling the investigations. Police Sub Inspector Nerlon Albuquerque, who was initially investigating the case, was dismissed from service for sabotaging the probe.

The public outcry following the revelations which led to Albuquerque’s dismissal, coupled with the suspension of forensic expert Silvano Sapeco for fudging Scarlett’s post mortem, was instrumental in the case being transferred to the CBI.

The two suspects Placido Carvalho and Samson D’Souza were the only people arrested by the police on charges of rape and murder but were subsequently bailed out by the trial court, citing absence of any evidence against them.

The police’s scuttling of the probe came on the heels of allegations made by Fiona that Goa Home Minister Ravi Naik’s son Roy Naik was involved in covering up the murder. She had also claimed that the home minister was involved in Goa’s shady narcotics underworld, which according to her had plotted her daughter’s murder. However, the minister vehemently denied all charges.

Fiona’s accusation had even forced the Director General of Police B.S. Brar to give a clean chit to Naik, his political boss, calling him “the most honest home minister” Goa ever had.

Meanwhile, ever since the CBI took over the case, it hasn’t even been able to question the dead teenager’s mother and the main witness in the case Mike Mannion alias Mike Masala, both of whom are in Britain.

Fiona is now facing charges of criminal neglect under the Goa Children’s Act.

A lawyer, Aires Rodrigues, filed a petition in the Panaji bench of the Bombay High Court arguing that it was Fiona’s neglect that led to her daughter’s murder.

Fiona was in Gokarna in Karnataka at the time of the incident and she had left Scarlett in the care of Julio, of whom the family knew very little.

The rape and subsequent murder of Scarlett Keeling at Anjuna beach has exposed the truth behind Goa’s shrill pitch of being a safe tourist destination and has brought to the surface the state’s seedy narcotics-laced underbelly.

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