Page last updated at 12:47 GMT, Friday, 19 March 2010

Men on trial in Goa over death of Scarlett Keeling

The BBC's Chris Morris reports on the start of the case

Two men have gone on trial charged with killing a British girl in Goa, India.

The body of 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling, of Bideford, Devon, was found on a beach in Anjuna in February 2008.

Samson D'Souza, 28, and 36-year-old Placido Carvalho, are accused of culpable homicide, grievous sexual assault and destroying evidence.

They are also charged with assault with criminal force with intent to outrage a woman's modesty and administering drugs with intent to harm.

Both men have been charged under the Indian Penal Code and the Goa Children's Act.

Away from Goa's famous beaches, the trial ... has been a long time in coming
Chris Morris
BBC News, Goa

The pair, who are on bail, attended a brief initial hearing at the Children's Court in Goa over the five counts they each face.

The state prosecutor has told the BBC that he hopes the trial will be completed by the end of the 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.

When her body was discovered, Goan police said her death was an accidental drowning.

But a second post-mortem examination, carried out after a sustained campaign by Scarlett's mother, Fiona MacKeown, revealed evidence of attack injuries.

Benefit fraud

India's Central Bureau of Investigation took over the investigation into Scarlett's death and Mr D'Souza and Mr Carvalho were arrested in March 2008.

The judge presiding over the trial has scheduled three hearings a week beginning on 5 April, when the first witnesses will be called.

Scarlett's mother did not attend the hearing in Goa. She was making an appearance at Exeter Crown Court on fraud charges.

Ms MacKeown, 44, of West Lodge, near Meddon, pleaded guilty to falsely claiming £19,000 income support between February 2005 and March 2008.

Her case was adjourned for sentencing at Exeter Crown Court until a date which has yet to be fixed.

Before her court appearance in Devon, Ms MacKeown said that she would have liked to have been in India for the start of the trial over her daughter's death.

She added that the delay in bringing her daughter's case to trial had been frustrating and also claimed that she had not been given sufficient support by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO).



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SEE ALSO
Scarlett mother guilty of fraud
19 Mar 10 |  Devon

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