Briton's murder in Dharamsala: Police to seek Interpol help



Dharamsala: The Himachal Pradesh Police will approach Interpol to crack the 2006 murder case of a British charity worker in this town and seek extradition of the prime suspect from Scotland, an official said on Saturday.

Michael Blakey's battered body was found in November 2006 pinned beneath boulders in a shallow stream running through an old British cemetery here. His autopsy reports confirmed he was bludgeoned to death.

"We are now going to seek the help of Interpol for extradition of the prime murder suspect Pawan Bhardwaj from Scotland," Director General of Police DS Manhas said.

He said Bhardwaj, the husband of Blakey's colleague Rachel Owen, migrated to Scotland from here immediately after the crime and his interrogation was crucial.

"We admit there were a number of loopholes during the initial stage of investigation. But now to tie up the loose ends, interrogation of Bhardwaj is a must. For this, we are seeking his deportation," Manhas said.

In an interview with the BBC, the victim's father Paul Blakey said: "None has been convicted over his death but reports in India suggest police are reinterviewing people."

Police here have restarted the interrogation of people who were associated with Blakey during his stay in this town.

Deputy Superintendent of Police Dinesh Sharma, who is investigating the case, said: "We have again interrogated more than 20 people, including family members of Bhardwaj, who came in contact with Blakey. Our investigation still points a finger at Bhardwaj, who is the prime suspect," he said.

He was arrested 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.

"We are seeking his (Bhardwaj's) deportation," Sharma said.

The victim's father Paul told the BBC that he just wanted a conclusion to the case. "His killer is still at large and I hate the word closure but I wish some sort of conclusion could be drawn with these investigations," he said.

"It's quite distressing that these (reports on) investigations keep appearing (but) to no avail - there is no result to any of them."

Almost four years after his son's killing, Paul now relies on Indian press reports for any information on the investigation.

"The case is closed in England so I appreciate there is nothing from the English side, but other than that, that's all the information we get," Paul said.

Asked whether he believed police would ever capture the killer, he added: "I think the stable door has been shut long after the horse has bolted. All the trails have gone cold, I very much doubt (they will be found)."

The state police are investigating two possible motives for the murder. The first reason could be that Bhardwaj was jealous of his wife's friendship with Blakey. The second could be that Blakey might have uncovered some financial chicanery in the charity, perhaps involving Bhardwaj.

Britain requested Indian authorities in July last year to help trace the killer.

Sharma said both autopsy reports - one conducted here and the second in Britain - cited the same reasons for the death: extensive head injuries and strangulation.

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

Between 2004 and 2006, Blakey and Owen visited Britain many times to generate funds for the charity.

Bhardwaj met Owen in a small tea shop belonging to his uncle in October 2005 and they fell in love. They married in a traditional Hindu ceremony in July 2006.

On November 26, 2006, Blakey suddenly went missing 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.

IANS