More than a year after the murder of Latvian tourist Liga Skromane in Kerala, her partner Andrew talks about his concerns regarding the case.

Year after Latvian tourists murder in Kerala her partner says cops obstructing justiceLiga Skromane / Andrew Jordan's Facebook
news Crime Monday, May 27, 2019 - 19:03

In May last year, news broke that two men had been arrested for the murder of Liga Skromane, a Latvian tourist found murdered near Kovalam in Thiruvananthapuram. Liga, who had come to Kerala for a wellness treatment, went missing on March 14 last year. One month and a week later, her decomposed and headless body was found at a mangrove forest in Thiruvallom. Initially, six people – members of a drug racket among them – were reportedly taken into custody. In the first week of May, the Kerala police zeroed in on the two men – a drug peddler and a tourist guide – for sexually assaulting and murdering Liga for resisting them.

More than a year later, one man is still holding on to the case, worried that the criminals who raped, killed and beheaded Liga are out on bail. Andrew Jordan, Liga’s partner, had come from his home in Ireland for the hearing on April 11, only to go home disheartened once again.

The two accused – Udayan (24) and Umesh (28) – who are out on bail, had not come for the hearing. “As I understand it, the hearing on April 11 was convened in order to read the charges against the accused and hear their plea. If they had pleaded not guilty, a date for trial would have been set. Since the accused were not present, this hearing has been postponed until June 12,” Andrew wrote to TNM from Ireland.

There were stories that Liga was lured by drug peddlers to smoke cannabis, a claim that Andrew had rubbished as fabrication, “as anyone that knew Liga was aware of her strong disapproval of all drugs.”

Andrew says he is concerned about the police approach towards the case. He asks why an initial suspect was suddenly dropped from suspicion. He is also baffled that Udayan and Umesh, who have other sexual assault cases against them, are out on bail. “How is it possible that the accused were released on bail? They both have histories of sexual assault, and should have been locked up a long time ago,” Andrew says.

Of police approach

He told TNM, “In the year since Liga's murder, I have been completely disheartened with the legal proceedings. From the day the body was discovered, it became clear that the police had absolutely no intention to investigate the case fully. When they attempted to pass Liga's murder off as suicide, despite clear evidence to the contrary, it became apparent that justice would not be served. In the days that followed, they claimed to have solved the case, and determined the guilty parties. In truth, they fabricated a story, and manufactured or doctored evidence to match their claims. Then they arranged for the speedy cremation of the only physical evidence, Liga's body, in direct contravention of a court order,” alleged Andrew in the email interview.

He had raised doubts to the police about the conflicting evidence. “They pretended to listen, but never responded or provided ANY response. All I managed to prise from them was a preliminary post-mortem report, which itself was vague and contained information that didn't agree with their story. I tried in vain to make contact with the police when I returned to Ireland. Liga's family was satisfied with the conclusions of the police, but in reality, they just wanted to put it behind them, and ignored glaring contradictions between the evidence and the police's story.”

Read: 'Going home with her ashes': How a vacation turned into a tragedy for 2 Latvian sisters

Andrew consulted lawyers in Ireland and India, “They – the lawyers in Thiruvananthapuram -- explained that this is how it always goes. The guilty seldom get penalised, if they can pay their way out of it, and this case was too high profile to risk a thorough investigation. It would have put the spotlight on the all the criminal activity and corrupt dealings in Kovalam. They are very eager to hide this mafia underworld from the public, as it would hurt tourism and implicate many higher officials. I have been advised not to waste my time seeking justice for Liga. The system is just too rotten to work with.”

He raises doubts that there were others involved in the murder. “It seems likely the two people arrested were involved, but I'm convinced there were others, who have been protected by political means. Either way, they should not be granted bail. When I asked why this is so, I was told that the police failed to file charges within the 90 day period, which automatically allows the accused to be granted bail. If there was any justice in this world, the DGP would be removed from office and charged with obstruction of justice. I will not rest until the officials who are responsible for these horrendous crimes are exposed. In my eyes, they are guiltier than the poor, sick individuals who murdered Liga.”

ADGP Manoj Abraham, who had investigated the case and concluded it months ago, said that there have only been two accused in the case. "Of course there is a charge sheet, how can there be a trial without a chargesheet? The delay (of not filing within 90 days) came when Liga's boyfriend gave a case in the High Court and that caused a delay of 30 days." But he agrees that both the accused – Udayan and Umesh – have a history of sexual assault cases against them.

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