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Goa politician John Fernandes charged in Russian rape case

Panaji, Feb 16 (IANS) The Crime Branch Tuesday formally charged Goa politician John Fernandes with raping and assaulting a 25-year-old Russian woman in December last year, police said.

Speaking to IANS, Deputy Inspector General of Police Ravindra Singh Yadav said the chargesheet was filed Tuesday before a local judicial magistrate, but would be admitted to the sessions court Feb 23.

 

FOrty-year-old Fernandes has been charged under sections 354 (assault or criminal force to woman with intent to outrage her modesty), 509 (word, gesture or act intended to insult the modesty of a woman), 376 (punishment for rape) and 201 (causing disappearance of evidence of offence) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), Yadav said.

 

John Fernandes is presently in judicial custody. The alleged rape of the 25-year-old Russian woman Dec 2 by Fernandes at Colva, a popular resort village in south Goa 35 km from here, had hit national spotlight, with the girl alleging that the police not only harassed her by not allowing her to register the complaint but they also ensured that the accused avoided arrest.

 

Echoes of the Russian’s rape were even heard in parliament when Goa’s lone Rajya Sabha MP Shantaram Naik (Congress) blamed the foreign national for hanging out with strangers till late in the night.

 

Even Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Public Works Department Minister Churchill Alemao had publicly blamed the victim for hanging out in the public areas till late in night after the complaint was filed.

 

Fernandes had contested the last assembly polls on a regional party ticket and came close to toppling Goa Tourism Minister Mickky Pachecho in the contest for the Benaulim seat.

 

The Russian consulate had to intervene and serve a stern rejoinder to the state government to investigate the rape case in earnest. Goa attracts nearly two million tourists annually – almost twice its population – and 4.5 lakh of the tourists are foreign nationals.

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