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Last Updated: Thursday, 7 December 2006, 18:45 GMT
Several quizzed on charity murder
Michael Blakey
Michael Blakey was helping refugee families get poverty relief
Police in northern India investigating the murder of a charity worker are questioning a number of people.

The body of Michael Blakey, 23, of Swansea and originally from Burnley, was partially hidden under a mound of stones with head and face injuries.

Ajay Yadav, a police officer in the state of Himachal Pradesh, said they had "three or four theories" and hoped soon to have "conclusive evidence."

A colleague of Mr Blakey's said friends feared he suffered a "brutal attack".

Mr Blakey, who was found on the outskirts of the town of Dharamsala, had been in India for five months working with the Tong-Len Charitable Trust helping refugees.

His body was discovered in a gully close to a church where he had been a member three days after he was last seen on the 25 November.

We all believe... Michael was just in the wrong place at the wrong time
Rachel Owen, friend and colleague

An Indian newspaper reported that his face and chest had been covered with stones but his body was not completely buried.

Mr Yadav said: "We are questioning several people in connection with this case."

Friend and colleagues of Mr Blakey have been supplying local police with whatever information they have, according to Rachel Owen, who worked with him. Her mother, Anna, runs the charity for which he was working.

She said none of his friends and colleagues could think of any reason he was attacked.

Ms Owen said: "We all believe that this must have been a random and brutal attack and that Michael was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

"We don't know actually what time Michael died or even if he died on the Sunday or the Monday, so we don't know if it was evening time or day time."

Ms Owen, who is married to a local Indian man, said she had been "shaken up" by Mr Blakey's killing and was now afraid to venture out on her own.

She said: "People are generally not feeling so safe. It's a quite peaceful town and this kind of thing does make you feel unsafe and scared to go out at night."

Prayers

Ms Owen said the 700-strong community in which Mr Blakey worked planned to hold a day of prayer in his memory on Friday, in line with Hindu tradition.

She said: "There have been a lot of tears, I have to say. Many of the people have known Michael for more than two years and they're grieving along with his family and friends. They were very shocked by this."

The death of the first-class honours graduate has shocked his friends in Swansea where he was well-known for his charity work with the Swansea Bay Asylum Seekers Group and his work supporting international students.

Mr Blakey was also an active member of the Methodist Church at the university, whose chaplain, the Reverend Richard Hall, said the death was "heartbreaking".

Dharamsala lies at the foot of the Himalayas and is the long-term home of the Dalai Lama and is the centre of India's large Tibetan community.

Mr Blakey's funeral is expected to take place in his home town of Burnley next week.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
Relatives of Michael Blakey speak about their loss


"This must have been a random and brutal attack"



SEE ALSO
India charity worker's body found
06 Dec 06 |  South West Wales

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