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Family suspects 'foul play' in Jacintha's death in London

Bangalore, Dec 11, 2012 (IANS):
Lisha Barboza stands with her father Ben while he holds a picture of his wife, nurse Jacintha Saldanha, as they leave the Houses of Parliament in London December 10, 2012. Two Australian radio announcers who made a prank call to a British hospital treating Prince William's pregnant wife Kate broke a three-day silence on Monday to speak of their distress at the apparent suicide of the nurse who took their call. REUTERS photo

British authorities will conduct a post-mortem and an inquest into the mysterious death of Indian nurse Jacintha Saldhana in London, but her family in Karnataka suspects "foul play" and wants an independent inquiry into the tragic episode.

"Jacintha's grieving family is anxiously waiting for the postmortem report and the outcome of the inquest by the Scotland Yard, because they suspect foul play in her tragic death as she was a strong woman and would not have resorted to such an act (suicide)," her family's close friend Ivan D'Souza told IANS Tuesday from Mangalore, about 350 km from Bangalore.

In the absence of details or more information on the incident from Jacintha's husband Benedict Barboza from London, members of both the families have been avoiding media as they are in a state of mourning.


"They are too shocked to say anything to the media and are more worried on how Benedict and his two kids are coping with the tragedy in Bristol, where they reside.
"Am told Benedict was allowed to see Jacintha's body Monday at the King Edward VII Hospital in central London," said D'Souza, general secretary of the opposition Congress in the state and a neighbour of Jacintha's family in Mangalore.

Barboza's family, however, lives at Shirva, about 60 km from Mangalore and 400 km from Bangalore.

D'Souza met Barboza's family members at Shirva along with former party MP Vinay Kumar Sorake to condole Jacintha's death and enquire about their welfare.

According to Jacintha's brother Naveen Saldhana, the family is waiting for the arrival of the body in Mangalore, with Benedict and his two children Junal, 16, and Lisha, 14, for the last rites that will be performed at Shirva as per the Catholic tradition.

"The family is expecting the British authorities to hand over Jacintha's body to Benedict either Tuesday or Wednesday so that he could fly to Mangalore via Mumbai on the same day or Thursday for the last rites Friday.

"It depends on how long the postmortem and inquest would take and when Benedict would get the flight to Mumbai and a connecting flight to Mangalore," D'Souza noted.

The family members are also mulling over seeking a second postmortem in India if they and Benedict are not satisfied with the inquest outcome in London.

"As Indian laws are applicable even in Britain, the family members are thinking of asking for a second postmortem under section 154 of the Indian Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973 if they are not convinced about the exact cause of Jacintha's death, being investigated by the Scotland Yard," D'Souza asserted.

Saldhana was found unconscious Dec 7 in the quarters of the hospital in central London where she was working as a senior nurse, and was pronounced dead when wheeled into the hospital in an ambulance.

"I have known and seen Jacintha when ever she visited Mangalore over the years as her family members, including mother, a sister and a brother reside next door. She was a pleasant lady and warm with friends and relatives," D'Souza recalled.

Jacintha, 46, who graduated from Father Muller College of Nursing in Mangalore in the mid-1980s, first worked at Muscat (Oman) for a few years and went to London after marriage 15 years ago to live with Barboza, an accountant in the British National Health Service at Bristol, 190 km from London.

"We didn't even know that Jacintha got unwittingly involved in the hoax call though we read something about it in newspapers last week that there was a prank call to the hospital from a radio station in Australia, whose jockeys tried to know about the princess's (Kate Middleton) health by imitating the voice of the queen (Elizabeth) and prince (Charles)," Jacintha's nephew said but declined to be named.

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