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Monday, Aug 19, 2019

Open letter to PM Modi from families of 10 foreign tourists who died in Goa

Scarlett Keeling’s mother joins bereaved kin of nine others who died mysteriously to pen joint letter demanding justice. They accuse Goa police of cover-up.

india Updated: May 30, 2017 16:47 IST
Nida Khan
Nida Khan
Hindustan Times, Panaji
Fiona MacKeown, mother of Scarlett Keeling, leaves the court premises along with her lawyer Vikram Verma, left, in Panaji, Goa, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016.
Fiona MacKeown, mother of Scarlett Keeling, leaves the court premises along with her lawyer Vikram Verma, left, in Panaji, Goa, Friday, Sept. 23, 2016. (AP File)

Nine years after 16-year-old Scarlett Keeling’s death, her mother, Fiona MacKeown, and families of nine other foreign tourists who died mysteriously in Goa have written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi demanding justice.

In the letter couriered to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the families have identified themselves as kin of tourists “murdered in Goa since 2005” and accused the police of cover-ups.

“Police are resistant to solving these cases and those who are responsible for murder remain at liberty to reoffend…” the families have written.

“We fervently request a commission led by Supreme Court Judge to analyze the investigations of the deaths of Caitanya Holt, Felix Dahl, James Durkin, Kyle Arndt, Scarlett Keeling, Denyse Sweeney, Stephen Bennett, Martin Neighbour, Michael Harvey and Jonathan Burbank to ensure a proper, unbiased and comprehensive investigation to reveal the truth about their deaths.

“The quality of the work of the police in Goa should be investigated. Instead of investigating the murders and killings, the local police want to cover up the truth,” states the letter.

Those who have written to PM
  • Parvati Dasi, mother of Caitanya Holt
  • Minna Pirhonen, mother of Felix Dahl
  • Jim Durkin, father of James Durkin
  • Lori Arndt, mother of Kyle Arndt
  • Fiona MacKeown, mother of Scarlett Keeling
  • Maureen Sweeney, sister of Denyse Sweeney
  • Amanda Bennett, sister of Stephen Bennett
  • Sara Neighbour, sister of Martin Neighbour
  • Pauline Harvey, mother of Michael Harvey
  • Davis Burbank, father of Jonathan Burbank

Minna Pirhonen, mother of Felix Dahl who died in Goa in 2015 and is also a part of the team that drafted the letter to the PM, said, “We have sent the letter to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi to ask for an investigation about the way police in Goa has handled the investigation of these deaths. Many cases have not been investigated at all, in others the investigation was done to show that nothing suspicious was found even in the case when the death itself was suspicious.”

She said they had a receipt that their letter was delivered to the PMO on May 25.

According to an RTI reply accessed by a local activist in support of relatives of several of the deceased, 245 foreigners have died in Goa in the last 12 years.

Responding to reports based on the RTI reply, state tourism minister Manohar Azgaonkar issued a release stating, “We have set the agenda for tourism in Goa, with safety and security of tourists being the No 1 priority for the tourism department.”

The release added, “The Goa government through the home department is augmenting budgets for improving safety and security measures in the state keeping in mind the tourism industry and the importance of providing a safe holiday for tourists visiting Goa.”

First Published: May 30, 2017 16:47 IST

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