The Goan police continue to fend off embarrassments over the murder of the British teenager Scarlett Keeling.
The sensational case that is attracting international attention saw another twist Saturday as forensic experts who conducted the second autopsy charged police did not fully co-operate with them.
AdvertisementAnd the pathologist who did the first post-mortem, Dr.Silvano Sapeco, now says Keeling had not been "overdrugged" as claimed by the police.
In a fresh report, he asserts that she was forcibly drowned and murdered.
Vikram Varma, lawyer for Fiona MacKeown, the dead girl's mother, cited the report that said the alcohol and drugs in her body were not sufficient to kill her. Apparently the findings are based on the results of a stomach analysis.
Ever since the 15-year-old's body was found on the Anjuna Beach in Goa on Feb.18, an international tourist destination, all kinds of murky stories have been swirling around, many versions charging that the police are doing a hatchet job and trying to protect the culprits.
Goa police initially tried to convince MacKeown that her daughter's death was due to accidental drowning.
After a vigorous campaign by the mother, a second autopsy was ordered which confirmed that Scarlett had been raped and murdered.
Last week Kishen Kumar, Goa's police inspector general announced that detectives had 'cracked' the case following the arrest of two men - Samson D'Souza and Placido Carvalho.
The police claimed Carvalho had plied Scarlett with a lethal cocktail of drugs and that she overdosed while D'Souza raped her.
The police said D'Souza dumped her in the sea when he saw somebody passing with a torch.
"The latest reports show that Scarlett fought back," said lawyer Varma. "It is also clear that her head was held under shallow water for five to 10 minutes.
"This is consistent with a forensic description of homicidal drowning. This shows that we have been lied to all along."
But then it was based on Dr Sapeco's first report that the police had mentioned drug overdose. Why he has changed his stance now is not clear.
"I'm still to read the report. The investigating officer informed me at about 6 pm that he had received a fresh forensic report from Dr Sapeco,'' North Goa Superintendent of Police Bosco George said.
"Only when a forensic doctor keeps the cause of the death reserved can they give new insights into the cause of death. But Dr Sapeco had clearly stated in his first autopsy report that the cause of death was due to drowning. So he can't give any new insights as an afterthought,'' argued another senior police official.
In an independent development the three-member expert panel which did the second autopsy have complained that they had not received any co-operation from the police from the very start of the case. This attitude, they said, had hampered the process of administration of justice.
The latest developments come as a breather for the dead girl's mother Fiona Mackeown, 43, who has been drawing flak for abandoning the teenager in an alien spot and going ahead with her own tour programme.
She had come to India in November on a six-month holiday with her boyfriend, Scarlett and six other younger children.
The Chief Minister of Goa has said her indifference had left her daughter vulnerable.
After Sapeco's second report, Fiona MacKeown said she was vindicated and accused the Goan police of a "cover-up".
"This is something I've been saying from the beginning...I want the police brought to justice."
She reiterated her calls for a full independent investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the way the case had been handled.
Interestingly she also said, "They are more interested in looking into my past than catching the accused."
It was a veiled reference to her being jailed on charges of attempt to murder when she was in her teens.
Fiona Mackeown had spent a year in jail for slitting the throat of a man she met at a party, her son had revealed.
Hal Keeling, 19, was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail of Britain that his mother was 18 when she and a friend were charged with attempted murder. She served a year of a three-year sentence after the charge was reduced to attempted manslaughter following a trial in 1983, the daily reported.
"I haven't been an angel in the past," the mother had confessed to her nine children, according to Hal. "She said she was very naive and a man they met at a party tried to get his heels into her.
Mum said he was into black magic and she freaked out," Hal was quoted as saying in the report.
Meantime Julio Lobo, the Indian boyfriend of Scarlett said, "Scarlett had a drinking habit. She used to drink vodka, beer and tequila, sometimes in large amounts, and her mother knew this.
"When her family was away and she was with me, she'd be drunk many nights, so drunk she was falling over.
"I guessed that she was also taking drugs though I never saw her doing that."
Julio's testimony is in direct contradiction to Mrs Mackeown's assertions that her teenage daughter was "not a drinker."
He is not under suspicion of involvement with Scarlett's death, but fears he could be charged with unlawful sexual relations with a minor under Goa's Children's Act, and has already applied for bail in anticipation of an imminent arrest.
Scarlett's diary - which cannot be used as evidence in any legal action against Julio - records that their first meeting was at one of Goa's full-moon beach parties, notoriously drug-fuelled affairs where revellers dance to techno and trance music into the small hours.
Scarlett wrote that she had drunk "a lot of vodka" and taken a pill - possibly Ecstasy.
"I was pretty messed up," she recalled.
"I don't remember a lot but apparently we had sex and I can remember that much."