Saturday 16 December 2017

Indian Police: We have no other suspects for backpacker Danielle's murder

Suspect Vikat Bhagat and Danielle McLaughlin
Suspect Vikat Bhagat and Danielle McLaughlin
Cathal McMahon

Cathal McMahon

Indian police say they have ruled out all other suspects in the murder of Irish backpacker Danielle McLaughlin.

Yesterday it emerged that chief suspect Vikat Bhagat had accused three friends, in a 29-page letter to his sister, of murdering the Co Donegal tourist.

However police have now told local reporters they have interrogated the three men and their role in the death "cannot be established".

Herald Goa names the three suspects who were "picked up as suspects" but says that after interviews they were allowed to go.

Canacona Police Inspector Filomeno Costa told the newspaper Bhagat had not disclosed the names of men in his police interviews. He added that the charge sheet is ready and would be submitted to the court with 90 days of the crime last March.

The police officer reiterated the motive behind the murder of McLaughlin is sex and the investigations have concluded.

In his letter, Bhagat (24) that three of his friends attacked and raped the young woman on March 13. And that these men smashed bottles and rocks off her head when she tried to fight back.

He claimed that he tried to stop the attack: "I tried to save her, but since I had undergone shoulder surgery, I could not help her."

The Herald Goa claims that medical reports, pictures and Bhagat’s statement in the letter prove that he had surgery to his left hand, making it difficult for him to lift a stone to smash attack Ms McLaughlin.

Bhagat, in the letter, claimed he was writing the facts "only to get justice to the departed soul".

Des Doherty, solicitor for Ms McLaughlin's family, told on Tuesday they were aware of the reports and said they have heard these allegations before.

"There is nothing new in them. We have to put faith in the appropriate authorities in India to investigate this fully.

"If what is being alleged has any substance it should be brought to the attention of the police in India.

"From our latest dealings with the police we know that a file is being sent to the director of public prosecutions over there. It is important not to confirm or accept anything that is reported in the media because it has all sorts of evidential and legal problems. This is clearly made up of hearsay."

The Derry-based solicitor said: "We do genuinely find this all highly dubious, spurious and lacking in evidential substance."

He said his clients found it unhelpful and upsetting to learn of this in the media and they do not want anything to prejudice a trial.

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