Indian police ask Britain to deport 2006 murder suspect

Last Updated: Sunday, January 3, 2010 - 15:55

Dharamsala: The Himachal Pradesh police, which have re-opened a probe into the 2006 murder of a British charity worker, Michael Blakey, in Dharamsala, has requested Scotland Yard to deport the probable suspect, Pawan Bhardwaj, for re-examination.
Blakey, part of an Indian charity that was running community-based projects in the hill station, was murdered November 2006. His body was found beneath boulders in a shallow stream running through an old British cemetery. He had been bludgeoned to death.

Dharamsala Deputy Superintendent of Police Dinesh Sharma, who is investigating the case, said on Sunday: "We have approached Scotland Yard to deport Indian Pawan Bhardwaj (the probable suspect) to India so that he could be re-examined."

Police suspect the involvement of Bhardwaj, the husband of Blakey`s colleague Rachel Owen, in the murder. Bhardwaj was arrested by police a few days after the murder and questioned for several days but was later released without charge. He then migrated to Scotland along with his wife.

Britain had requested Indian authorities in July last year to help trace the killer. Acting on their request, the Indian police restarted the investigation "but no substantial evidence has been found so far", said the police official.

Both post-mortem reports - one conducted here and the second in Britain - cited the same reasons for the death - extensive head injuries and strangulation, he added.

The Lancashire coroner`s court sent an inquest report to the Indian police that includes statements of Blakey`s colleagues and friends, including Owen and Bhardwaj, and the post-mortem report.

"Our investigation is now zeroing in on Bhardwaj. He might have allegedly committed the crime for two reasons - either he was jealous of his wife`s friendship with Blakey or the victim might have uncovered some financial scam in the charity, perhaps involving Bhardwaj," Sharma said.

"We can`t initiate his deportation proceedings in Indian court due to lack of cogent evidence against him. It`s now on the part of the British police to either re-examine him or deport him to India," he added.

According to the police, Blakey visited the hill town in 2004 and formed the Tong-Len charity with a friend.

He suddenly went missing on November 26, 2006, from the monastery where he was staying. His body was found in the graveyard two days after his disappearance. It was sent to his family in Britain after post-mortem.


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First Published: Sunday, January 3, 2010 - 15:55

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