London: The mother of a British Indian man found dead in the Thames soon after a racist attack wants Scotland Yard to launch a murder inquiry in light of fresh evidence suggesting he was murdered.
Lakhvinder `Ricky` Reel, a 20-year-old Brunel University student, had disappeared in 1997 during a night out with friends. His group was attacked by two white youths shouting racist abuse and Reel went missing soon after.
His body was found a week later in the Thames.
The police believe his death was most likely an accident and that he had fallen into the river.
An inquest had recorded an open verdict.
The dead man`s mother, Sukhdev Reel, has always maintained that her son was murdered and has now been contacted by a new witness who claims to have evidence confirming her suspicions.
"She gave a name as to who he is and where he is. He is currently in prison for a murder. He murdered a man and is spending life in prison," she told BBC in a television interview here yesterday.
"They (police) have come back and said the person who gave the information is too frightened to speak to the police and that maybe this person has learning disabilities and may not be credible," she added in reference to the police response to the latest lead in the case.
The family, from Kingston-Upon-Thames in south-west London, has long been critical of how the police handled Reel`s case.
Campaigners supporting them had also demanded further investigations as part of a `Justice for Ricky Reel` campaign.
"This is the first time after a long time that a witness has come forward and named what the witness thinks is a possible suspect," said Suresh Grover, from the rights group Southall Monitoring Group, which has been supporting the family in its quest for answers and recently met Scotland Yard officers to stress on following the new lead.
The police complaints authority had apologised to the Reel family back in 1999 for "weaknesses and flaws" in the initial investigation but has denied any allegations of not taking the case seriously.
"We can confirm that inquiries were recently made by officers from the Special Casework Investigation Team after information was received by a member of the public. There was ultimately insufficient evidence to take inquiries further," a Metropolitan police spokesperson said in a statement.