Interrogation into Briton murder case re-started

Dharamsala, July 18 (Calcutta Tube) The Himachal Pradesh Police has re-started interrogation into the murder of British charity worker Michael Blakey in Dharamsala, an official said Sunday.

Blakey, part of an Indian charity, was murdered in November 2006. His body was found beneath boulders in a shallow stream running through an old British cemetery. His post-mortem reports confirmed that he was bludgeoned to death.

‘We have again started the interrogation of people who were known to Blakey or associated with him during his stay in Dharamsala,’ Deputy Superintendent of Police Dinesh Sharma, who is investigating the case, told IANS.

‘More than 15 people were interrogated again last week and some more will be questioned. We are trying to lay hands upon evidence, if any, against the prime suspect Pawan Bhardwaj,’ he said.

Police suspect the involvement of Bhardwaj, the husband of Blakey’s colleague Rachel Owen, in the murder.

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.

‘Bhardwaj’s interrogation is crucial at this point in time. We want to get him deported. This will be possible only when some evidence against him could be gathered. Even the British Police could question him there,’ Sharma said.

The Himachal Pradesh Police are investigating the case on two counts. The first reason could be that Bhardwaj was jealous of his wife’s friendship with Blakey and the second could be that Blakey might have uncovered some financial chicanery in the charity, perhaps involving Bhardwaj.

Another police official, associated with the probe, said the investigation at the time of crime was poor.

‘The investigation was weak as no substantial evidence was gathered from the crime scene which could have given clues to solve the mystery. We are not able to establish the intention of the accused behind the crime,’ he said.

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

Sharma said both post-mortem reports – one conducted here and the second in Britain – cited the same reasons for the death — extensive head injuries and strangulation.

Additional Director General of Police I.D. Bhandari, who is visiting Britain this week to attend a training programme, said Bhardwaj is still a suspect in the crime.

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

The Briton went missing Nov 26, 2006, 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.

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