Indian police say Irish woman murdered in Goa was also raped

MUMBAI (AFP) - A young Irish woman who was murdered in the popular Indian tourist destination of Goa was also raped, police said Thursday (March 16).

The body of 28-year-old Danielle McLaughlin was discovered naked in a field near a beach in the south of the picturesque state on Tuesday.

“We had sent the body for a post mortem examination. Reports have confirmed that Danielle was raped before the murder,” deputy superintendent Sammy Tavares of the Goan police told AFP.

Police have charged 23-year-old Indian man Vikat Bhagat with the murder of McLaughlin, who was from Donegal in the north of Ireland.

“Besides the earlier charge of murder we have also booked him for rape. The accused will be in police custody until March 22 after which he’ll be produced in court,” said Tavares.

McLaughlin had been celebrating the Indian spring festival of Holi at Goa’s popular Palolem beach on Monday night, according to police. Her badly bruised body was found a few kilometres away in Canacona by a farmer early the next day.

Several foreigners have died in Goa over the past decade or so, including 15-year-old British schoolgirl Scarlett Keeling, whose bruised and semi-naked body was found in shallow water on a beach in 2008.

The deaths, many in suspicious circumstances or from drug or alcohol abuse, have blighted the resort state’s reputation as a tourist haven.

Last September, two Indian men were cleared of the rape and murder of Keeling, whose death became international news, shining a spotlight on the seedy side of the resort which is popular with Westerners and drawing attention to India’s sluggish justice system.