Scarlett''s body lying in UK mortuary for 3yrs, CBI nod awaited

Sunanda P

Mumbai, Feb 13 (PTI) Three years after the mysteriousdeath of Scarlett Keeling on a Goa beach, the body of theBritish teenager is still lying in a mortuary in the UK as herfamily awaits a CBI nod for her last rites.

Scarlett''s battered, semi-nude corpse was found onGoa''s Anjuna beach on February 18, 2008. The body was flown toUK in March that year. A charge sheet has been filed againsttwo locals -- Placido Carvalho and Samson D''Souza-- who havebeen out on bail, while the case drags on.

"According to procedure, in cases where foul play issuspected or in unnatural death, the authority to release thebody lies with the investigating agency. The agency would haveto issue a no objection certificate to the mortuary statingthe body could be handed over to the family," advocate VikramVerma, representing the victim''s family, told PTI.

The trial in the case began in April last year andstatements of over 12 witnesses, including Scarlett''s motherFiona Mackeown, have been recorded by the children''s court,the designated authority in Goa to try crimes related tominors.

In all, 72 witnesses are to be examined in the case.

Scarlett Keeling, 15, was sexually assaulted and left to dieat Anjuna beach Feb 18, 2008, allegedly by two beach shackworkers. The police had initially dismissed the case as deathdue to drowning but after her mother alleged foul play, thecase was transferred to the CBI.

The body of Scarlett has been since lying in DevonCounty mortuary with the Coroner''s office in the UK. In suchcases, the victim''s family has no right to seek release of thebody and the onus lies on the prosecution to issue ano-objection certificate which has not been done in the caseso far.

The CBI is unwilling to come on record on the matter.

It has been a long wait for the victim''s familyespecially the mother. Sources close to the family claimedthat the CBI team was requested informally to release the bodybut "no one was willing to take a decision".

"Many postmortems have been conducted but theinvestigating agency is still unable to take a stand whetherthey want to keep the body or not," the sources alleged.

The trial was also dragging as the special prosecutorhas recused himself from the case and the CBI was now sendinganother lawyer to Goa to represent the state in the fast trackcourt.

A toxicology report had initially revealed Scarletthad consumed a cocktail of drugs, including cocaine, andalcohol. However, a second post-mortem examination showed thatthe teenager had in fact been raped, had 50 abrasions on herbody and was killed when her head was forcibly held underwater for five to ten minutes.

The family aide feels that it has been a long wait forthem and expressed hope that the CBI would issue the NoC sothat the body could be laid to rest.

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