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2 acquitted in UK girl’s rape-murder on Goa beach, mother wants to appeal

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Two beach shack workers, accused of raping and killing 15-year-old UK teenager Scarlett Keeling on a Goa beach in 2008, were acquitted by a trial court here on Friday. The victim’s mother and her counsel claimed that incompetent investigation influenced by the drug mafia and an inordinate delay could have led to the acquittal.
Samson D’Souza and Placido Carvalho were acquitted by Goa Children’s Court President Vandana Tendulkar at the end of an investigation and trial that dragged on for eight years. Carvalho said that he was “happy” with the judgement and that all the charges against him were “false”.

Speaking to IANS after the verdict was delivered, advocate Vikram Varma, counsel of Fiona Mackeown, Scarlett’s mother, said the criminal justice system has let them down.

“The criminal justice goes into motion and those who are charged are acquitted, which essentially means that nobody killed her, nobody hurt her, nobody gave her cocaine,” Varma said.

“So the issue is, if someone has been murdered, it is the job of the investigating agency to find out who has done it and present adequate evidence for the charges they have filed against these people. Now that particular system has failed,” he said.

Scarlett’s half-naked body was found at Anjuna beach in February 2008. While the police initially tried to pass off the incident as a suicide, a second autopsy revealed 52 injury marks on her body as well as traces of a cocktail of drugs in her system.

The case was subsequently handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation by the then Congress-led coalition government, after a high-profile campaign for justice by Fiona, who during course of the trial accused then state Home Minister Ravi Naik as well as his son Roy, of trying a cover-up for gthe crime.

The trial was also delayed due to the transfer of five judges from the Goa Children’s Court, which is authorised to try criminal cases against minors in the coastal state.

“The delay has been of a reluctant system, which does not want to investigate a crime committed on a foreigner, if the crime has been committed by a local person,” Varma said.

A dejected Fiona said that medical evidence appeared to suggest that her daughter had been drugged, raped and murdered, but blamed the local police as well as the CBI for the acquittal of the two accused. She said that international tourists were not safe in Goa.

Keeling’s death turned the spotlight on the issue of safety of the coastal state’s beaches which attract nearly four million tourists every year.

“It is clear that the CBI are either incompetent or corrupt and I don’t believe that they are incompetent. I can only say that if international tourists come to Goa and they are murdered, they cannot hope for justice,” Fiona said.

A mother of eight children and a resident of Devon in Britain, Fiona said that her resources and strengths had got sapped over the course of the prolonged investigation and trial, adding that she was feeling “deflated” after the acquittal.

She also said that the refusal of a key witness in the case, Michael Mannion from the UK, to depose before the Goa Children’s Court even via video conference from the UK, could have punctured the prosecution’s case. Mannion was a key witness who had seen Samson sexually assault Scarlett near the Luis beach shack, at Anjuna beach.

“I hold him partially responsible for he let Scarlett down the first time when he drove off on that day, and he has let her down today. He is a despicable coward…” Fiona said.

Fiona has expressed hope that the CBI would go in appeal against the order.

CBI counsel Ejaz Khan said the decision on whether the agency would go in appeal would be taken only after perusal of the order, a copy of which is expected to be released on Monday.

“We haven’t seen the court order yet. We will get a copy of the order on Monday. We will be in a position to comment on the order only after going through the written order,” Khan told IANS.

Speaking to IANS, Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said “Personally, the outcome of the case is unfortunate”.

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Delhi Metro ready to resume services after 169 days

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New Delhi, 7 Sep : Delhi Metro is ready to resume its services, which were suspended since 22nd March 2020 due to Corona pandemic, from tomorrow i.e, 7th September 2020 onwards from Yellow Line (Samyapur Badli to HUDA City Centre) in a staggered manner. Over a period of next five days i.e, by 12th September, rest of the Lines will also be made operational with all safety measures in place to check the spread of Covid-19 in the Metro premises which requires everyone to follow a new normal of social distancing, face mask and hand sanitisation.

“On this Monday and Tuesday, only the Yellow line (49 KM with 37 stations consisting of 20 underground and 17 elevated stations) will remain operational for a period of four hours each in the morning (7 AM to 11 AM) and evening (4 PM to 8 PM). Trains will be available with a headway varying from 2’44’’ to 5’28” (at different stretches) with 57 trains performing around 462 trips. The same will be further extended in a graded manner from 9th to 12th September along with other Lines”, said Mr. Anuj Dayal, the Executive Director of Corporate Communications at DMRC.

“The resumption of services with a new normal to prevent the spread of Covid-19 desires public to understand and co-operate with DMRC/CISF personnel on few aspects for a comfortable and safe commuting experience”, a statement released by DMRC said.

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Unlock 4 Guidelines: What’s allowed, what’s not

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Metro Services to resume from September 7

No permission needed for inter/intra-state movement of goods, persons

New Delhi, 29 Aug : The Ministry of Home Affairs on Saturday announced guidelines for ‘Unlock 4’, which will come into effect from September 1. As per the new guidelines, Metro rail will be allowed to operate with effect from September 7 in a graded manner, while schools, colleges and other educational institutes will remain shut for students upto September 30.

Under Unlock 4 guidelines, the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs will be issuing Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for the Metro services to resume.

The Ministry of Home Affairs have decided to allow religious, social, political, entertainment, sports and academic events to take place from September 21, but only outside the containment zone with a limited participation of not more than 100 people. Open air theaters will also be permitted from September 21.

“Such limited gatherings can be held with mandatory wearing of face masks, social distancing, provision for thermal scanning and hand wash or sanitizer,” MHA guidelines for Unlock 4 state.

The statement issued by the Ministry of Home Affairs for Unlock 4 clearly stated that there will be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods, and no separate permission/ e-permit will be required for such movements.

In a statement the MHA said, “State/ UT Governments shall not impose any local lockdown (State/ District/ sub-division/City/ village level), outside the containment zones, without prior consultation with the central government.”
For the vulnerable section of the population, the MHA said, “vulnerable persons, i.e., persons above 65 years of age, persons with co-morbidities, pregnant women, and children below the age of 10 years, are advised to stay at home, except for essential requirements and for health purposes.”

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BJP leader Manoj Sinha appointed Lt. Governor of J&K

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New Delhi, 6 Aug : Senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Manoj Sinha was on Thursday appointed the Lieutenant Governor of Jammu and Kashmir, a day after G.C. Murmu in a surprise development resigned from the post exactly a year after the nullification of Article 370 in the erstwhile state, and barely nine months after he took over the reins of the newly created Union Territory.

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