Nearly a year after Mahanand Naik had allegedly confessed to killing 16 women, a local court acquitted him of the charge of killing the first woman citing lack of evidence of his involvement in the crime.

District and Sessions Judge Desmond D’Costa let off Mahanand from the case saying the prosecution had failed to establish that the woman went to the spot with Mahanand. “The prosecution also could not prove that she was killed and her body thrown in the bushes by the accused,” the judge said.

The order also expressed the doubt that the police may have been trying to fix a blame on accused to solve the unsolved mystery of the woman’s death.

The order was delivered through video conferencing by the Judge from Margao court to the accused Mahanand, a former rickshaw puller, who is currently in Sada sub-jail near Vasco town.

Mahanand was charged with killing Gaonkar, 30, by taking her to a hillock in Paroda village, 50 kms away from Panaji sometime around March 19, 2006. Police had charged that the accused had killed the girl to rob golden ornament worn by her.

Police had claimed that he had confessed to killing 16 women over a period of 15 years in Goa by luring them with the promise to marry them. The killer had allegedly strangled to death his victims using their dupatta.

The court, during the trial, had examined a host of witnesses, including investigating officer Nilesh Rane, a pickup vehicle driver Gurudas Naik and Sakhu Gaonkar, mother of the deceased who belongs to poor family from Panchawadi village near Ponda town.