Charges filed over rape and murder of Irish woman in India

Indian police have released CCTV footage, which they say captures the final movements of Donegal woman Danielle McLaughlin before she was murdered in Goa, India.
The formal charge sheet for the rape and murder of a 28-year old Irish woman in India’s southwestern Goa state in March has been filed in a local magistrate’s court.
Inspector Rajendra Prabhu Desai told The Irish Times that the Canacona court in southern Goa had fixed June 21st to hear charges against Vikas Bhagat (24) for raping and murdering Danielle McLaughlin, whose body was discovered on a nearby beach on March 14th.
Speaking over the telephone Mr Desai said Mr Bhagat, who was already facing multiple charges of theft and petty crime in Goa, was the only suspect in the murder case.
He added that since this was a murder case it would, in all certainty be transferred to the higher Sessions Court in nearby Marago, Goa’s second largest city by population and also its commercial capital.
Mr Desai said investigations into Ms McLaughlin’s rape and murder had been completed and police were confident of securing a guilty verdict against Mr Bhagat, but could not provide a time frame in which this would be achieved.
Criminal trials in India’s notoriously slow judicial system tend to drag on interminably, and it can be years before the process of appeals to higher courts is exhausted.
According to latest government statistics over 1.43 million criminal cases were pending for more than 10 years and tens of thousands of people languished in jails across the country awaiting justice.
In 2008 a British teenager, Scarlett Keeling, was similarly raped and murdered on a Goa beach but eight years later a local court had freed the two men charged with her killing after the police investigations proved inadequate.
According to police Ms McLaughlin was last seen a day before her body was discovered by a passerby on March 14th. She had been dancing at a beach party along with the prime accused Mr Bhagat, and several other revelers, celebrating Holi, the Hindu Spring festival.

A post mortem revealed that she died due to “brain damage and neck constriction” and that she had also been repeatedly raped, police said.

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