Page last updated at 10:25 GMT, Thursday, 18 February 2010

Goa victim Scarlett's body release delay 'outrageous'

Scarlett Keeling
Police in Goa initially said 15-year-old Scarlett had drowned

Two years after a Devon teenager was raped and killed in the Indian state of Goa, her mother is still waiting for the body to be released.

Fifteen-year-old Scarlett Keeling from Bideford was found dead on a beach in Anjuna in February 2008.

Fiona MacKeown's lawyer, Vikram Verma, said it was "outrageous" as there was no reason for the body being held.

He told BBC News there has been a communication breakdown between the Devon coroner and Indian authorities.

Advocate Verma said the coroner is waiting for clearance from magistrates in India, but this is not the normal procedure in that country, so an application would have to be made through the embassy.

This will be a difficult day, but she will mark it in her own way
Advocate Vidram Verma

"No body should be held for two years - it is outrageous," he said.

The Exeter and Greater Devon Coroner's office said it would not be appropriate to comment.

Two men have been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder and are currently on bail awaiting trial.

Samson D'Souza, 28, and Placido Carvalho, who is in his 30s, have also been charged with intent to outrage a woman's modesty, administering a drug with intent to harm and destruction of evidence.

Ms MacKeown, 45, said last October she feared her daughter's body might not be released until the end of Mr D'Souza and Mr Carvalho's trial, which could take up to a year.

Scarlett and her family were on a six-month holiday in India when she was left in the care of a 25-year-old tour guide while the rest of her family went travelling.

Fiona MacKeown
Fiona MacKeown may not be able to bury Scarlett until the end of the trial

When Scarlett's body was found on the beach, Indian investigators said she had drowned, but a second post-mortem examination carried out at the insistence of Ms MacKeown revealed evidence of attack injuries.

India's Central Bureau of Investigation started a fresh investigation which led to the arrest of the two men.

Mr Verma said he remains in regular contact with Ms MacKeown.

"This will be a difficult day, but she will mark it in her own way," he said.

Last February, Ms MacKeown threw flowers into the sea off the north Devon coast, after being advised not to return to Anjuna beach to mark the anniversary.



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