British woman says her daughter’s murder in Goa was hushed up

Panaji, Aug 24 (IANS) Fiona MacKeown, mother of British teenager Scarlett Keeling who was sexually assaulted and left to die on a Goa beach in 2008, continues to believe there was a police-government nexus which tried to hush up her daughter’s murder.

The issue put the spotlight on the women’s safety on Goa’s popular beaches.

“I believe my daughter is murdered. I have seen the injuries on her body and it would have taken some force to injure her like that,” she told reporters on Wednesday outside the Goa Children’s Court, where the trial’s final round of arguments are currently on.

“I think the defence is just trying to make it seem like an accident. I believe she was murdered and I believe that will come through,” she said.

Scarlett Keeling, 15, was sexually assaulted and left to die at Anjuna beach on February 18, 2008, by two beach shack hands, who according to the police had also spiked her drinks.

After initially dismissing the case as a suicide, police were later forced to register a case of attempted murder after a campaign by MacKeown, along with her lawyer Vikram Varma.

Some police officials were also suspended for tampering with evidence at the time. The case was finally handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), by the then Congress-led coalition government of Goa.

The trial into the Keeling case started in 2010 and nearly 70 witnesses were examined over the past six years.

MacKeown, who in her statement to the Goa Children’s court had accused former Home Minister Ravi Naik and his son of trying to cover up the probe into her daughter’s death, now says a change in government had given her an element of hope.

“I think much has changed since the last eight years. I think police interfered and tried to cover it (the investigation) up. It was supported by the government, some of the police and some (from) the government. Now it is seems different,” she said.

“There is a different government in place. Some of the policemen who were there, are not there. But I do hope the change is for the better,” she added.



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