Scarlett Keeling case: Both accused acquitted, mother Fiona MacKeown devasted

In the Scarlett Keeling rape and murder case, a Goa court acquitted both the accused — Samson D'Souza and Placido Carvalho — on Friday. "Somebody murdered my daughter...I am devastated... I've been waiting all this time," said Scarlett's mother, Fiona MacKeown to NDTV.

Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar told CNN-News18 that he was annoyed and heartbroken by the verdict and that the acquittal should be challenged.

The two men, who were charged with raping and causing the death of British schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling on a Goa beach in 2008, were acquitted by the Goa Children's Court president Vandana Tendulkar at the end of a trial which lasted for eight years.

An undated family handout picture of teenager Scarlett Keeling who was found dead in Goa. Reuters

An undated family handout picture of teenager Scarlett Keeling who was found dead in Goa. Reuters

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 culpable homicide charge is the most important charge because I believe that she was murdered," Keeling's mother Fiona MacKeown told AFP ahead of the verdict.

The teenager's death became international news, shining a spotlight on the seedy side of the resort destination and also drawing attention to India's sluggish justice system.

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.

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.

With inputs from agencies

Updated Date: Sep 23, 2016 15:30 PM

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