Thiruvananthapuram

Liga case: police suspect sexual assault

Latvian woman Liga Skromane (in the picture) might have been sexually assaulted.

Latvian woman Liga Skromane (in the picture) might have been sexually assaulted.

Senior Kerala police investigators on Tuesday said they suspected that two local ganja peddlers had sexual assaulted Liga Skromane, a Latvian tourist who went missing in mid-March before they strangulated her to death in a remote backwater locality close to Kovalam.

The Latvian national’s 40-day-old body was found in the mostly cut-off swampy Vazhamuttom area abutting the Thiruvallam lagoon.

Officials said they had the suspects in their cross hairs. They have a criminal history of peddling drugs and preying on their foreign clients. The police were yet to charge them with the crime.

Investigators said that Liga, who was reported missing by her relatives on March 14, had gone to Kovalam first and later to Thiruvallam, possibly to procure marijuana from street peddlers.

The police believe that the suspects might have enticed her into following them to the secluded locality covered with thick shrubbery.

Their case, as of now, was that the accused doped Liga and then raped her. Her resistance to their sexual assault and fear that the foreigner would bring the law on them might have motivated one of them to choke her to death.

Earlier version

The police have dismissed the earlier version that the accused had killed Liga because she refused to pay for the drug. Investigators chased scores of suspects and pursued several leads before they charted out the route to Liga’s alleged killers. They learned from local people that the place where Liga’s body was found was the exclusive haunt of the duo.

A forensic analysis of their mobile phone metadata indicated that the time the suspects were present at the spot before and after Liga’s disappearance overlapped scores of times in the past 50 days.

Moreover, the accused could not satisfactorily explain why they had strangely not noticed Liga’s body at their private locale. Forensic experts have examined the premises and belongings of the suspects to find some biological evidence, possibly Liga’s DNA, that would link them to the crime.

Officials said it was challenging to interpret ante-mortem injuries, particularly rape, in decomposed bodies. Forensic doctors had deduced strangulation from fractures found on her cervical bone.

Cremation today

Liga Skormane’s mortal remains will be consigned to flames at the Shanthikavadam Public Crematorium on Thursday.

Her relatives said it would be a very private function. The ashes would be taken to her native place in Latvia. On Sunday, the Kerala Tourism department will hold a meeting in memory of the tourist.

Ilze meets CM

Liga’s sister Ilze Skormane met Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and thanked the government for the support extended to her family during the time of her disappearence and after.


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Printable version | Jul 5, 2022 4:29:05 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Thiruvananthapuram/liga-case-police-suspect-rape/article23753594.ece