Dutch man confesses to killing British woman: police

SRINAGAR (AFP) - A Dutch man has confessed to stabbing to death a young British woman holidaying in Indian Kashmir while under the influence of drugs, police said on Sunday.

Richard De-Wit, 43, told police that he had murdered Sarah Groves, who had been staying on the "New Beauty" houseboat at Dal Lake in the Indian Kashmir city of Srinagar for two months.

"He has confessed that he committed the murder under the influence of some drug. We have sent his blood sample for testing to ascertain the facts," deputy inspector general of police Afadul Mujtaba told AFP.

De-Wit was arrested on Saturday as he tried to flee in a taxi near Qazigund, 75 kilometres (45 miles) south of Srinagar, soon after the 24-year-old was found dead in a pool of blood in her houseboat cabin.

Police, who have yet to establish a motive for the crime, said they had spoken to De-Wit's wife in Holland who told them that her husband has had a history of psychiatric problems.

"His wife told us that he has had such problems in the past and that he had been seeing a psychiatrist as well," Mujtaba said.

De-Wit, who had been staying in an adjacent room in the same houseboat as the victim after arriving on Thursday, broke the latch on her cabin door and tried to escape in a small boat after killing her, police said.

He was carrying only his passport when he was arrested.

Mujtaba said a sexual motive for the crime had not been established.

"He has denied having sexually assaulted her and so far we have not found any such evidence either," Mujtaba said.

"The investigation is continuing because a mere confession to the police is not admissible in the court. We are trying to find more evidence," he added.

The gruesome incident comes after a 39-year-old Swiss cyclist was allegedly gang-raped and robbed by six men in the central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh last month.

Also last month, a British female dental hygienist suffered leg injuries when she jumped from a hotel balcony in the northern tourist city of Agra, fearing a sexual assault by hotel employees.

The safety of women in India has been in the spotlight since the fatal gang-rape in December of a 23-year-old physiotherapy student on a bus in New Delhi, which sparked nationwide outrage.

A recent survey said the number of foreign women tourists visiting India has dropped by 35 percent in the past three months following the spate of sex attacks.

The incident is also likely to hit tourism in Kashmir, known as the "Switzerland of the East" for its snow-capped mountains, lakes and breathtaking landscapes.

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