“I am shocked,” said a visibly distraught Fiona MacKeown, after the Goa court on Friday acquitted two local men accused of drugging and sexually abusing her teenage daughter Scarlett Eden Keeling, who was left to die on the Anjuna beach in the year 2008.
“It was quick and I am shocked. I was not expecting acquittal. I was expecting the conviction. I will challenge the order,” Fiona MacKeown told reporters outside the court hall here after Goa Children’s Court Judge Vandana Tendulkar let off both the accused Samson D’Souza and Placido Carvalho in the high-profile death case, which dented the image of the popular tourist state globally.
After Scarlett’s death in February 2008, Fiona had lived in Anjuna for a couple of weeks trying to piece together the evidence in the case. “It took a huge effort for me to even get the police to register a complaint (in the case),” she said recalling her struggle to get justice for her 15-year-old daughter. She alleged she knew that the Goa police was not interested in the execution of the killers. “It is clear that they are either incompetent or corrupt. I don’t believe they are incompetent. And all I can say is that if any international tourist comes to Goa and gets murdered, they have no hope for justice in this system,” she said.
Fiona also claimed that medical evidence confirms that her daughter was grievously assaulted, raped and murdered after some criminals gave her alcohol and cocaine.
Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar termed the judgment as “unfortunate”, but said it will not hamper the image of the coastal state. “I have just heard about the verdict, I have not gone through the entire judgment. I feel the outcome of the verdict is heartbreaking, it is very unfortunate. Unless I go through the judgment I would not be in a position to detail my reaction,” he said.
“It is a heartbreaking judgment. In a beautiful state of Goa, this unfortunate incident had occurred about 7-8 years back. And today when the result has come out, I feel that such an outcome of the case needs to be challenged in the higher court,” the CM said
Parsekar also said the outcome won’t impact the image of Goa. “Since the incident happened, it (the trial) has been going on.. but forget the image of Goa, forget prospects of tourism, what I am sorry is about the family and (Scarlett’s) her mother,” he said.
Meanwhile, senior Congress leader Durgadas Kamat said the judgment is “unfortunate.” “This incident has brought shame to Goa at international level. I do not expect from the Chief Minister to say that Goa’s name didn’t get tarnished. It did get tarnished. We appeal to the CM that all possible legal help is given to the victim’s family so that justice is delivered,” Kamat said.