Eight years after her 15-year-old daughter Scarlett Keeling was found sexually assaulted and dead at Goa's Anjuna beach, a local court here today acquitted two men accused of raping her and causing her death.
Goa Children's Court Judge Vandana Tendulkar acquitted Samson D’Souza and Placido Carvalho of all the charges in the eight-year-long high profile death case.
Carvalho and Samson had been charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, sexual abuse and drugging. The verdict was announced in a jam packed court hall.
Scarlett's mother Fiona Mackeown expressed shock at the verdict.
"I am shocked. I was not expecting acquittal. I was expecting conviction. I will challenge the order," Fiona told reporters outside the court hall here.
After her daughter's body was found, Fiona had lived in Anjuna for a couple of weeks trying to piece together the evidence in the case. She flew down to Goa from Davon (UK) to be present in the court for the final verdict.
CBI filed its chargesheet in the case in 2010 after the probe was handed over to the central agency from Goa Police in 2008 on repeated pleas made by Scarlett’s family.
Goa Police was accused of trying to "hush up" the case. The 15-year-old's bruised and semi-nude body was found at Anjuna beach on Feburary 19 2008, following which the police had claimed it as a case of drowning, but later registered it as culpable homicide.
The case had grabbed international attention as British citizens used to be the largest number of tourists visiting Goa.
The investigating agency had charged Samson of sexually abusing the girl and leaving her to die on Anjuna coast while Placido was accused of providing narcotics to her on the fateful day.
"I am relieved. Justice has finally prevailed," said Samson while talking to reporters after the verdict.
The prosecution examined 31 witnesses, including the mother of the deceased during the trial.
Scarlett's death had thrown the spotlight on Goa's drugs trade with Fiona claiming former Home minister Ravi Naik and his son Roy’s involvement in a drug racket.
Meanwhile, Goa CM Laxmikant Parsekar said that he was annoyed and heartbroken by the verdict and that the acquittal should be challenged.