A Goa court acquitted on Friday two men accused of raping and killing British schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling in 2008, triggering outrage in a case that put a global spotlight on the dark underbelly of India’s tourism industry.
“I find them not guilty of all charges,” Judge Vandana Tendulkar said after the trial of Samson D’Souza and Placido Carvalho in the state capital Panaji.
But Scarlett’s mother Fiona MacKeown said she was devastated by the outcome and promised to fight to overturn the verdict.
“I am reeling. It’s been eight years of agony. I feel devastated and will definitely be challenging the verdict,” she told reporters outside the court.
“We had been waiting all this time and it’s just rubbish. India’s whole judicial system has totally let me down,” she added.
“Somebody murdered my daughter in this country and somebody must be held accountable.”
Fifteen-year-old Keeling’s bruised and half-naked body was found on popular Anjuna beach eight years ago. Her death made headlines worldwide and triggered a debate on how unsafe the popular tourist destination was for foreigners, especially women.
Police initially dismissed the teenager’s death as an accident but opened a murder probe after Keeling’s mother, Fiona MacKeown, pushed for a second autopsy, which proved she had been drugged and raped.
MacKeown also accused local authorities of trying to cover up the death to protect drug gangs operating in Goa.
Several weeks after the attack, local men D’Souza and Carvalho were arrested.