Mother of dead British teen faces accused in Indian trial

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The mother of a British teenager found drowned in the Indian resort state of Goa on Friday spoke of her shock after coming face to face with two men on trial over her daughter's death.

"I was disturbed to see them," Fiona MacKeown told reporters outside court after a two-hour deposition at the trial in the state capital, Panaji. "Lots of thoughts crossed my mind," she added.

MacKeown arrived in Goa to testify on Thursday, vowing to "highlight the cover-up" surrounding her daughter Scarlett Keeling's death.

The 15-year-old's body was discovered half-naked at the popular Anjuna Beach resort in north Goa on February 18, 2008. A post-mortem examination found she had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs before she died.

Two local men have been 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 told the court that the officer in charge of the investigation misled her about how Scarlett died, claiming that she had drowned and had no bruising on her body.

But she said she did not believe the officer, as her daughter was a strong swimmer and that she had later seen bruises when she identified the body.

And in a sign that potentially vital evidence may have been overlooked, she said she found Scarlett's sandals, underwear and shorts at the place where she died, two days after her death.

She also said she initially suspected that a man named "Shanti" was behind Scarlett's death as he had been harassing her for going out with another man.

MacKeown, who was on an extended family holiday with Scarlett and her siblings from their home in southwest England, pushed for police to open a murder investigation after they initially dismissed the death as accidental.

She accused them and the local authorities of trying to protect powerful drug barons who control the sale of narcotics in the tourist hotspot.

The trial was adjourned until Monday, when MacKeown will be cross-examined.

© 2010 AFP

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