Goa: More than eight years after British teenager Scarlett Keeling's body was found on a beach in Goa, two men accused of raping her and causing her death have been let off by a court.
- British teen Scarlett Keeling was found dead on Goa beach in Feb 2008
- 2 beach shack workers were accused of raping Scarlett, causing her death
- Goa children's court today acquitted both accused citing lack of evidence
Beach shack workers Samson D'souza and Placido Carvalho were acquitted by the Goa children's court on Friday. They had been accused of sexually assaulting Scarlett after giving her a cocktail of drugs and leaving her unconscious in shallow sea water. The 15-year-old's body was found bruised and partially clothed in the early hours of February 19, 2008.
"I am devastated. My daughter was murdered. Someone should be held responsible," said Scarlett's mother, Fiona MacKeown, who flew down from Britain for the verdict.
"I am not just going to go away and give up...I am just very deflated at the moment," she told reporters.
The Goa police first said the teen had drowned because she was drunk, but pressure from her family forced a second autopsy that indicated she was likely raped and killed.
Mr D'souza and Mr Carvalho, who were allegedly seen drinking at a bar with Scarlett the night she died, were arrested and charged with culpable homicide and sexual assault.
Scarlett's mother testified during the trial that her daughter couldn't have drowned because she was a good swimmer.
Scarlett had been on vacation with her family; her mother, her mother's boyfriend, and her six siblings were traveling elsewhere in India when she died.
Over the years, three public prosecutors and five judges have changed in the case. An eyewitness, British national Michael Mannion, did not testify after he reportedly had a nervous breakdown. He had told the police that he saw one of the two accused men sexually assaulting the teenager.
Fiona MacKeown said: "I hold Michael partially responsible for this. He is a despicable coward and he should be charged for this."
Goa's beaches have lured foreign backpackers and tourists for decades, but the Scarlett Keeling case threw the spotlight on the easy availability of drugs and also raised questions about police negligence.