Scarlett Keeling case: Indian court acquits both accused

Police initially dismissed the teenager's death as an accident but opened a murder probe after Keeling's mother, Fiona MacKeown, pushed for a second autopsy which proved she had been drugged and raped. Photograph:( AFP )

WION Panjim, Goa, India Sep 23, 2016, 09.45 AM (IST)
An Indian court today acquitted two men charged with raping and causing the death of British schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling on a Goa beach in 2008.

Fifteen-year-old Keeling’s bruised and semi-nude body was found on the popular Anjuna beach in the north of the small Indian tourist state.

Police had at first dismissed the death as an accidental drowning but reopened the case after Scarlett's mother Fiona MacKeown insisted on a second autopsy which pointed to the 15-year-old being raped and drugged.

The two men accused of causing her death, Samson D'Souza and Placido Carvalho, have been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, using force with intent to outrage a woman's modesty, and of administering drugs with intent to harm.

They were accused of plying Scarlett with drinks and drugs, including cocaine, and then leaving her in shallow waters where she drowned.

Mrs MacKeown had wanted stronger charges levelled against the two men but the federal agency - Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) - which took over the investigation from the Goa Police, said that they did not have the evidence needed to charge the men with the stronger accusations.

Scarlett had been at a beach party before she died.

Mrs MacKeown, along with her other daughters, was at the time on a holiday in the neighbouring state of Karnataka and had left Scarlett behind in the care of a Goan family. That was a decision Mrs MacKeown said she came to "bitterly regret", and which brought her in for a tremendous amount of censure back in Britain.

The trial began in 2010 but was dogged by numerous delays, including hearings of just one afternoon a month, due to a backlog of cases and a public prosecutor withdrawing from proceedings.

(WION with inputs from AFP)