Mother of dead British teen testifies in India
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Mother of dead British teen testifies in India

 The mother of a British teenager, whose body was found on a popular beach in western India in 2008, told a court Friday police initially tried to convince her that her daughter drowned.

The bruised and partially clothed body of Scarlett Keeling, 15, was discovered on a beach in Goa.

Police initially said Keeling drowned because she was drunk, but pressure from her family forced a second autopsy that indicated she was likely killed, and may also have been raped.

A visibly upset Fiona MacKeown told the court she did not believe her daughter drowned because she was a good swimmer.

Police also tried to suppress the fact there were bruises on her daughter’s face, she said, adding it was only her persistence that led to the discovery of crucial evidence such as her daughter’s sandals, underwear and shorts.

Police faced strong criticism for their handling of the teenager’s death.

Two men — Samson D’Souza, 28, and Placido Carvalho, 36, who were allegedly seen drinking at a bar with Keeling the night she died — were later arrested and face charges of culpable homicide, sexual assault and destroying evidence.

The accused men face between seven and 21 years in prison if convicted. They are out on bail.

The trial in the case began in March.

The Keeling family comes from Bideford, southwest England. Scarlett Keeling had been on vacation in India with her mother, her mother’s boyfriend, and her six siblings. Her family was traveling elsewhere in India when she died.

The next hearing is scheduled for Aug. 2, when MacKeown will be cross-examined by the defense.

India’s legal system is notoriously slow and overburdened and cases routinely drag on for years.

Goa is a former Portuguese colony and a popular backpacking destination. It is also known for its drug-infused beach parties.

Nearly 2.5 million tourists visit its numerous beach resorts every year, of which nearly half a million are foreign nationals.

Associated Press