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Death threats against Scarlett's mother: Lawyer

The mother of a British teenager who was found dead on a Goa beach nearly a year ago has been advised not to return to the country because of death threats, her lawyer said today.

india Updated: Feb 09, 2009 12:53 IST

The mother of a British teenager who was found dead on a Goa beach nearly a year ago has been advised not to return to the country because of death threats, her lawyer said on Monday.

Vikram Varma said he had warned Fiona MacKeown that it was not safe for her to travel to Goa, where her 15-year-old daughter, Scarlett Keeling, was allegedly drugged and raped before she died.

"We have assessed the situation and we feel it would be better for her not to come right now because the threat to her life is quite high," he told AFP by telephone.

"Until we are satisfied about her safety we can't bring her to India."

He declined to elaborate on the exact nature of the threats.

Scarlett's death was initially dismissed by police as accidental death by drowning until MacKeown pushed for a murder probe, claiming a cover-up by detectives. Two local men were later charged and are awaiting trial.

Post-mortem examinations established that the teenager had taken a cocktail of drink and drugs before she died.

Scarlett sent emails to a friend alleging that she was sexually assaulted after taking drugs at a party three days before her death, Varma said.

The lawyer said it was "very clear" that the youngster had been killed by people linked to the powerful local drugs underworld and that the threats against her mother were an attempt to stop her from testifying in court.

MacKeown also said in an interview in Britain's The Sunday Times newspaper that she was afraid of being arrested if she returned to Goa as a negligence case has been filed against her.

She had been hoping to fly to Goa to mark the first anniversary of Scarlett's death on February 18 and collect her remaining organs that were removed during the autopsies so she can finally be buried.

A private ceremony is expected at her home in the county of Devon, southwest England, Varma added.