NEW DELHI — An Indian court on Friday acquitted two suspects in the death of a British teenager whose body was found on a popular beach in western India in 2008.
Fiona MacKeown, the mother of 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling, said she was shocked by the verdict. Keeling’s bruised and partially clothed body was discovered on a Goa beach.
“I am devastated. I feel let down by the system. I was hoping for a guilty verdict,” MacKeown told reporters.
Goa state’s top elected official, Laxmikant Parsekar, said prosecutors would study the judgment. “We should go for an appeal,” he told reporters.
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.
Mackeown testified during the trial that she did not believe her daughter drowned because she was a good swimmer.
Two men who were allegedly seen drinking at a bar with Keeling the night she died were arrested and tried on charges of culpable homicide and sexual assault.
Keeling’s family comes from Bideford in southwest England. She 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.
India’s legal system is notoriously slow and cases routinely drag on for years. The trial in Keeling’s death began in 2010 and took six years to complete.
Goa is a former Portuguese colony and a popular backpacking destination. Millions of tourists visit its numerous beach resorts every year.