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Briton's murder in Dharamsala: Father seeks justice

Upset over police failure to solve the 2006 murder of British charity worker Michael Blakey in this Himachal Pradesh town, the victim's father has said reports on probe by Indian sleuths "keep appearing" but there is no result.

india Updated: Jul 24, 2010 17:08 IST

Upset over police failure to solve the 2006 murder of British charity worker Michael Blakey in this Himachal Pradesh town, the victim's father has said reports on probe by Indian sleuths "keep appearing" but there is no result.

However, police here said the British government was not cooperating with them.

In an interview with the BBC after IANS carried a report titled "Interrogation into Briton murder case restarted" dated July 18, victim's father Paul Blakey said: "None has been convicted over his death but reports in India suggest police are reinterviewing people."

Paul told the BBC that he just wanted a conclusion to the case.

"His killer is still at large and I hate the word closure but I wish some sort of conclusion could be drawn with these investigations," said Paul.

"It's quite distressing that these (reports on) investigations keep appearing (but) to no avail - there is no result to any of them."

Blakey, part of an Indian charity, was bludgeoned to death in November 2006. His body was found beneath boulders in a shallow stream running through an old British cemetery. His autopsy reports confirmed he was beaten to death.

Almost four years after his killing, Paul now relies on Indian press reports for any information on the investigation.

"The case is closed in England so I appreciate there is nothing from the English side, but other than that, that's all the information we get," Paul said.

Asked whether he believed police would ever capture the killer, he added: "I think the stable door has been shut long after the horse has bolted. All the trails have gone cold, I very much doubt (they will be found)."

However, Deputy Superintendent of Police Dinesh Sharma, who is investigating the case, told IANS: "We have again started the interrogation of people who were known to Blakey or associated with him during his stay in Dharamsala."

"More than 15 people were interrogated again and some more will be questioned. We are trying to lay hands on evidence, if any, against prime suspect Pawan Bhardwaj," he said.

Police suspect the involvement of Bhardwaj, the husband of Blakey's colleague Rachel Owen, in the murder.

He was arrested a few days after the murder and questioned for several days but was later released without charge. He then migrated to Scotland along with his wife.

"Bhardwaj's interrogation is crucial at this point in time. We want to get him deported. This will be possible only when some evidence against him could be gathered. Even the British police could question him there," Sharma said.

He, however, said: "The British (high commission) in Delhi is not cooperating with the (Indian) police as it is not revealing the personal details of Bhardwaj like the nature of visa granted to him."

A senior police official here associated with the investigations said: "We have sought assistance from the British government to deport Bhardwaj back to Dharamsala, but it is quiet. Even the government has been informed that police cannot conclude the investigations without questioning Bhardwaj."

Himachal Pradesh Police are investigating into two possible motives for the murder. The first reason could be that Bhardwaj was jealous of his wife's friendship with Blakey. The second could be that Blakey might have uncovered some financial chicanery in the charity, perhaps involving Bhardwaj.

Another police official, associated with the probe, said the investigation at the time of crime was poor.

"The investigation was weak as no substantial evidence was gathered from the crime scene which could have given clues to solve the mystery. We are not able to establish the intention of the accused behind the crime," he said.

Britain requested Indian authorities in July last year to help trace the killer.

Sharma said both autopsy reports - one conducted here and the second in Britain - cited the same reasons for the death: extensive head injuries and strangulation.

Blakey visited the hill town in 2004 and formed the Tong-Len charity with a friend, he said.

The Briton went missing Nov 26, 2006, from the monastery where he was staying. His body was found in the graveyard two days after his disappearance. It was sent to his family in Britain after post-mortem.

First Published: Jul 24, 2010 17:06 IST