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Two accused in Scarlett Keeling death case let off

Goa Children’s Court Judge Vandana Tendulkar acquitted Samson D Souza and Placido Carvalho of all the charges in the eight-year-long high profile death case. Carvalho and Samson had been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, sexual abuse and drugging. The verdict was announced in a jam packed court hall. Scarlett’s mother Fiona MacKeown expressed shock at the verdict.

“I am shocked. I was not expecting acquittal. I was expecting conviction. I will challenge the order,” Fiona told reporters outside the court hall here. After her daughter’s body was found, Fiona had lived in Anjuna for a couple of weeks trying to piece together the evidence in the case.She flew down to Goa from Davon (UK) to be present in the court for the final verdict.

Just hours after the two main accused were acquitted by the Goa children’s court, Keeling’s mother - 
Fiona MacKeown - on Friday said she no longer trusted the Indian justice system to do its job.  She also suggested that the CBI, which attempted to prosecute the two accused, was corrupt. “I don’t have faith in the justice system here to give us justice, anymore,” was quoted as saying “I had some hope in the CBI but it is clear that either they are incompetent or corrupt, and I believe they are not incompetent,” she added. 

She also had a warning for potential tourists to India. “If an international tourist comes to Goa and gets murdered, they have no hope for justice in this system,” she said. Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar said that he was annoyed and heartbroken by the verdict and that the acquittal should be challenged.

Fifteen-year-old Keeling’s bruised and semi-naked body was found on the popular Anjuna beach in the north of the small Indian tourist state, popular with Western hippies, eight years ago.

Samson D’Souza and Placido Carvalho were 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. The case had grabbed international attention as British citizens used to be the largest number of tourists visiting Goa.

Police initially dismissed Keeling’s death as an accidental drowning, but opened a murder investigation after MacKeown pushed for a second autopsy, which proved she had been drugged and raped. It showed that Keeling had suffered more than 50 injuries to her body.

The trial began in 2010 but has been 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. 

A key witness, Briton Michael Mannion, known as “Masala Mike”, also refused to testify, dealing a huge blow to the prosecution’s case. He had initially spoken of seeing D’Souza lying on top of Keeling on the beach shortly before she died. The prosecution examined 31 witnesses, including the mother of the deceased during the trial.

MacKeown and her family were on a six-month holiday to India when she, Keeling and her other daughters went on an excursion to the southern state of Karnataka, but Keeling later returned alone to attend a party.
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