Two men from Goa have been cleared of the rap and culpable homicide of a 15-year-old British girl in the tourist resort town in 2008.
Scarlett Keeling’s bruised and half-naked body was found on the popular Anjuna beach in the north of Goa.
The 15-year-old had been at a Valentine’s Day beach party while the rest of her family had gone travelling.
A post-mortem examination showed there was ecstasy, cocaine and LSD in her body.
Her death was originally treated as an accident but eventually police charged two local men, Samson D’Souza and Placido Carvalho, with causing her death.
They were alleged to have plied her with drugs, raped her and left her unconscious on the beach where she subsequently drowned.
But they were acquitted of charges of rape and culpable homicide at Goa Children’s Court on Friday.
After hearing the verdicts, Scarlett’s mother F iona Mackeown, who has fought a long battle for justice, said she would be seeking an appeal.
She told reporters: “I am disappointed with the verdict and I will definitely move to the higher court.”
Scarlett’s death became international news, shining a spotlight on the seedy side of the resort destination and also drawing attention to India’s sluggish justice system.
Police only opened a murder investigation after MacKeown pushed for a second autopsy which proved she had been drugged and raped.
It showed that Keeling had suffered more than 50 injuries to her body.
The trial began in 2010 but has been dogged by numerous delays, including hearings of just one afternoon a month due to a backlog of cases and a public prosecutor withdrawing from proceedings.
A key witness, Briton Michael Mannion, known as “Masala Mike”, also refused to testify, dealing a huge blow to the prosecution’s case.
He had initially spoken of seeing D’Souza lying on top of Keeling on the beach shortly before she died.
MacKeown and her family were on a six-month holiday to India when she, Keeling and her other daughters went on an excursion to the southern state of Karnataka, but Keeling later returned alone to attend a party.
Her body was found on the morning of February 18, 2008.
Police allege that D’Souza and Carvalho plied Keeling with a cocktail of drink and illegal drugs, including cocaine, before sexually assaulting her and leaving her to die by dumping her unconscious in shallow water where she drowned.