Mother of dead British teen accuses Goa minister over drugs

2nd August 2010, Comments 0 comments

A British woman on Monday claimed in court that the interior minister of India's Goa state was in charge of a drug dealing network and that his son had given her daughter drugs before she died.

Fiona MacKeown made the claims against Goa home minister Ravi Naik and his son Roy while testifying against two men on trial in connection with her daughter Scarlett Keeling's death more than two years ago.

The 46-year-old told the court in the state capital Panaji: "I have been told that Ravi Naik is the head of the drug nexus with his son, that policemen are also involved in the same."

Roy Naik, Scarlett's then boyfriend and the two accused -- Samson D'Souza and Placido Carvalho -- were among five people who "had been giving drugs to my daughter," she added, naming all the men.

The allegation came under cross-examination from defence lawyer Jos Peter D'Souza, who asked her whether she was serious about her previous claims to reporters that the politician was involved in 15-year-old Scarlett's death.

"I started suspecting Ravi Naik immediately after the murder of my daughter," she told D'Souza but admitted that she did not inform police of her suspicions for lack of evidence.

During three hours of testimony, MacKeown broke down in tears after the defence lawyer forced her to identify the clothes that Scarlett was wearing before she was found half-naked, bruised and drowned in February 2008.

She sobbed as she was shown her daughter's underwear, trousers and sandals and confirmed they belonged to the teenager.

MacKeown said she had found the clothing and a sandal belonging to her daughter two days after her death and handed them to local police, fearing potentially vital forensic evidence may have been missed.

Police initially dismissed the death as accidental. A post-mortem examination found that Scarlett had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs before she died.

MacKeown has criticised a decision not to charge Samson D'Souza and Carvalho with rape and murder and accused local authorities of trying to cover-up the death to protect drugs gangs who control the sale of narcotics in Goa.

Instead, the defendants face charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder, using force with intent to outrage a woman's modesty and administering a drug with intent to harm.

The case was adjourned until Wednesday.

© 2010 AFP

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