British mother cries foul over daughter's death in Goa

29th July 2010, Comments 0 comments

The mother of a British teenager found drowned in Goa over two years ago arrived in India on Thursday, vowing to shed light on what she said was a continued cover-up over her daughter's death.

"I will assist the court with all the information available to me," said Fiona MacKeown after arriving in the former Portuguese colony to give evidence against two local men charged over her daughter Scarlett Keeling's death.

"I will highlight the cover-up," she added before the hearing in the state capital, Panaji, on Friday.

Fifteen-year-old Scarlett's bruised and semi-naked body was found at the popular Anjuna Beach resort in February 2008. A post-mortem examination determined that she had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs before she died.

MacKeown, who had brought the family to India on an extended holiday from their home in southwest England, pushed local police to launch a murder investigation after they initially treated the case as an accidental death.

She claimed that police and local authorities were reluctant to investigate because of their alleged links to powerful drug lords who control the sale of narcotics in the tourist hotspot.

"Two and a half years later I find it disturbing that they are still trying to cover up," she said. "The relevant authorities who are entrusted with the protection of life have assisted the criminals trying to cover up."

Scarlett's death and MacKeown's campaign for justice highlighted the dark side to India's famous resort state, whose laid-back atmosphere and sandy beaches have been a magnet for foreigners since the hippy trail of the 1960s.

MacKeown, who has criticised the decision not to charge the men on trial with rape and murder, indicated that she may name more suspects in the case, depending on the judge's directions.

The men are charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, using force with intent to outrage a woman's modesty, and administering a drug with intent to harm.

MacKeown also suggested that other people allegedly involved in her daughter's death "are still out... walking free".

© 2010 AFP

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