Death of Latvian woman: trial enters crucial phase

The ongoing trial in the alleged sexual assault and murder of a Latvian tourist has entered a crucial phase with depositions by expert witnesses before the Thiruvananthapuram Additional District and Sessions Court – I. Former Principal of Government Medical College Hospital, Alappuzha, and forensic medicine specialist K. Sasikala, who had led the post-mortem examination of the deceased, will testify before the court on Friday.

The prosecution will hope to strengthen its case through the deposition as it notably comes two days after a chemical examiner was declared hostile after his testimony seemingly punched holes on crucial evidence. P.G. Asok Kumar, who was then assistant chemical examiner at the Chemical Examiner’s Laboratory, Thiruvananthapuram, testified that the possibility of death due to drowning could not be ruled out.

Algae in bone marrow

He based his observation on the premise that diatoms (algae) were detected in the bone marrow of the deceased and they matched with the microorganisms found in the water samples that were collected from the area. Notably, diatoms cannot be detected in the bone marrow if the person had consumed the water. The person should have drowned or should have been force-fed the water.

He also said there was no trace of spermatozoa in the body and added the bodily fluid can be detected even after a year of death. While the theory could potentially weaken the prosecution case, he later clarified during re-examination that the finding could depend on the extent of putrefaction.

Prosecution confident

However, the prosecution maintained such views would not hamper its case since Umesh and Udayakumar, who have been arraigned in the case, have been accused of forcefully administering water to the victim. This could have led to the entry of diatom to the lungs and the sternum.

Two police officers, including the officer who had initially registered the man-missing case in the Pothencode case, deposed before the court on Thursday. Two prosecution witnesses have been declared hostile thus far.

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Printable version | Jun 23, 2022 8:38:21 pm |