A fair trial in India sign now


My name is Frank Lacey I am a British Citizen.

I have been visiting Goa, India for the last 9 years and for the last 7 years I have been coming here with my friend Desmond Hope, we stay in general for 4 months every year at the same place over the Christmas period.

This is my first contact with the Embassy since Tuesday the 20th of February. On that occasion I asked that no contact be made to the Colva Police station as I was advised by Inspector Uday Parab that this would make matters worse for both Desmond and me.

My friend, Mr Desmond Thomas Hope 32 who is also a British Citizen was arrested in a non-residential wooded area along with his friend, Imran Asbin 20, who is of Indian origin. On the evening of the 19th of February at approximately 11.40 they were detained under IPC Section 41 at Colva Police Station west of Margao, Goa.

After the police openly beat both Desmond Hope and Imran Asbin in the Colva Police Station through the night, they told Imran that if he did not agree to a statement they had prepared then they would go to his village in Karnataka and tell all his family and friends that he is a homosexual. Imran agreed under great pressure of threats to his and his familys lives.

On the morning of Monday the 19th of February, I visited the police station where I was told that Desmond was in lock-up at Margao Police Station as they have no holding facilities at Colva. I was with a very good friend of mine from India, Arun S. He managed to find out from the Officer on the front desk that the charge was small and they would be released later that day, I asked if the Embassy had been informed and the Officer assured me that a wire had been sent to Mumbai.

When we returned at about 12 pm on the same Monday to collect Desmond Hope, we were then told that he would possibly be charged under Section 377. At this point the Inspector of Colva Police Station, Uday Parab, told Desmond that he would serve up to 10 years for this offence and that no amount of money would change his mind.

On returning back to where I stay in Colva, I immediately went online for information about what I should do next; my first stop was the www.fco.gov.uk/travel website where it stated that I should contact the local office immediately in this situation. I spoke with a woman called Caron who told me that she would send me a list of recommended Advocate's in this area and that she would contact Inspector Parab at Colva Police Station for me as to find out if and when they planned to charge Desmond Hope with any offence.

I returned to Colva Police Station at around 2pm where I was taken into Inspector Parab's office where he asked for both Desmond Hope and Imran Asbin to join us, they were both very tearful and looked scared, he shouted at Imran and told him to repeat to me his statement, he speaks very little English and mumbled a few words while crying. I could not believe what was being said to me so I shook my head, Desmond immediately told me to not make it any harder for him, they both began to cry and the Inspector became mad. He sent them out and then began to read Imran statement to me.

In brief his statement said that he had known Desmond Hope for over a year and that Desmond had promised him a job in London bank. In favour of that Imran and Desmond had given each other oral sex on more than ten occasions against his wishes.

The Inspector was very condemning of me being in his office, he began to shout that they had caught another British paedophile, he told me to go away and do whatever I think I need to do, he then told me to contact the British Embassy. At that point his phone rang and it appeared to be Caron from the The British Tourist Assistance Office in Goa enquiring about Desmond Hope. He said to her that they had tried to phone but the office was closed, they used the number given in the message but they did not get through. He also said that they was about to charge Desmond Thomas Hope with IPC Section 377 that day (Unnatural Offences, oral sex with another male).

After the phone call the Inspector was very angry that I had called the The British Tourist Assistance Office in Goa, he said that it now had become a serious matter for me and that my friend would spend the next 10 years inside because of my mistake in calling the The British Tourist Assistance Office in Goa.

I left after that to find an Advocate, I checked my email but had received nothing from the The British Tourist Assistance Office in Goa, and I again phoned the The British Tourist Assistance Office in Goa and asked that the email be sent again, I waited a further 30 minutes but still received nothing. I then went to Margao to find any Advocate that would give me some advice. I found two very young Advocates, I quickly explained the facts at that time and they said this can't happen and so we all went to the Colva Police Station to find a remedy.

On arriving we entered the Inspectors office and the story was told by him to the two young Advocates. They sat there with their Law books opened reading as he spoke. I waited outside for some time, and then one Advocate came out and said to me that they wanted to search Desmond's room where we stay. I said this was fine and so we all went to Sernabatim, Colva where Desmond and I share a room on the beach. About 15 officers came including the Inspector, the two Advocates and Desmond in handcuffs. A quick search was made and nothing was found. At this point I was advised by the Advocates to offer the Inspector some money to make this go away. I never got a chance to speak to him alone so they said they would come with me back to Colva Police Station and help me get this settled.

The Advocates approached Inspector Parab about a bribe but he said he could do nothing as I had phoned the The British Tourist Assistance Office in Goa and that his superiors would now no and he would have to follow up the case by the book. He reiterated that it was because of my phoning of the The British Tourist Assistance Office in Goa that this case had become as big as it was. At this point, now in the evening, the press arrived and sat behind us as Inspector Parab read out Imran's statement again. Notes were taken and then the pressman left. After that Inspector Parab told me that now it would be in tomorrow's papers and that once again this was too serious to stop.

I chatted with the Advocates outside; they told me that this was not a serious case and that I should get myself a good Advocate who will take this to the courts. Desmond Hope and Imran Asbin were taken that evening to Panjim JMC for a medical examination.

The next day, Tuesday the 20th of February, I was informed that Inspector Parab wanted to see me, I went to his office with Arun S. Desmond was already in there when I entered, I was then told by the Inspector, who seemed much kinder today, that he could fix all our problems, if we was willing to pay him, he could make this case disappear, it would cost us but he was willing to deal with the whole mess and fix everything. He told us that this happens a lot with other nationals, in particular Russians, he said when Russians have a criminal matter they phone their Embassy and the Embassy says pay up and finish the matter. He said if we were willing he would take care of this. He told us firstly that if we gave him Rs50000 he would fix the Doctor's report to show no signs of oral sex. He then went on to say that he would need to pay the Judge, Public Prosecutor, provide his own Advocate for us, pay off the police that arrested Desmond and also pay off Imran to change his statement. He then told us that it would take a minimum of 2 months to clean up, possibly up to 6 months. I told him that we are only here for another few weeks (9th of March flights to the UK) and that our visa's expire mid April, he said he would get Desmond's visa extended, he knew someone who can do this instantly at the FCO. He never gave us a final total of how much this would cost.

After this meeting Arun S and I found an Advocate, Joffrey Martins, who sympathised with us and had similar problems with Inspector Parab before in regards to his way of buying off or bullying and threatening people to get what he wants. He said that he could get Desmond Bail by the end of that week. We told him what Inspector Parab had said and he said that he was bluffing and that he has no power over the courts decision, nor could he change a Doctor's report. Advocate Joffrey Martins told us that Bail would be applied for on the day Desmonds remand was to end, which was the 22nd of February.

In the three days following the charge of IPC Section 377, the owners of the room I rent in Colva have been threatened by the Inspector to reveal any details about my choice of Advocate and my whereabouts, also my next plan of action. The Inspector arranged a meeting with Arun S and me at a restaurant outside of Margao on the evening of
Wednesday the 21st of February. He had dinner while he repeated his threats to us that he could make this case drag on for years in court and that only he had the power to end this; he assured us that he could end this case within 1 month now for a total fee of 5 Lakh. I told him I do not have the funds, Arun also said he cannot manage to find that kind of money. He said again that this case was very serious in nature and that he would find more evidence if needed to secure a longer trial. He also said he had told the Doctor to hold the results of the medical until he requested them and that they will report whatever he wants. I told him that I would look into flying home where I could maybe find some funds and that I would be in touch the following day. He told me that for 1 Lakh in his hand now he would have Desmond out on Bail the following day, I told him I did not have that kind of money available. This meeting lasted for about an hour. It finished when Arun said he would call him the following day if he could find the 1 Lakh he was asking for.

On Thursday 22nd of February, the Bail request was submitted in Judicial Court, it was advised to Advocate Martins by members of the court that it would be rejected at this level and he should voluntarily withdraw the Bail application and re-apply in the District Court, he requested that Desmond be allowed to stay in Judicial Custody which was granted. He knew that this may happen and had the application for Bail ready to submit to the District Court which he did that afternoon. The following day, Friday 23rd of February, argument was heard at 2.30pm and the Judge ordered that a decision will be made the following Monday regarding Bail.

I stayed away from Colva for the weekend but my friend Arun's phone was called at least three times by an intermediary to ask whether we was going to pay or not. Each time he told the truth that we do not have the money. Each time he was told on the phone that this will make the case go on longer.

On Monday afternoon the Bail was rejected on grounds that the case is a serious offence and there might be every chance of Desmond re-offended if released. Advocate Martins was shocked and said that these are not realistic grounds for this kind of case. I sought advice from various advocate groups around India and have been in touch with an NGO and some Human Rights groups who all say that this is a small case and a crime which is generally laughed at in Court circles as an outdated crime, the general advice is to sit tight and just follow procedure and that justice will be done as this IPC Section 377 is being debated at the present time and is expected to be repealed by the Government as it is under review now because it is just used by corrupt police and gangs to extort money from people.

We are re-applying for Bail at the District Court level this week and if that fails we will go to the High Court and re-apply again. My friend Arun has, just yesterday been phoned twice by someone claiming to be a police officer from another Station; he says that he will be arrested for anything they can find on him unless he stops assisting me. They claimed to know his address. At this time I feel under threat to be able to just see the Advocate. I feel like a prisoner here and unable to help Desmond in any way now. This is a clear case of the Police using whatever tactic they can to try and apply pressure on me to pay them off to finish this case.

I have not yet involved Desmonds family in the UK, also my family do not yet know of the situation we are in. This, truly I feel is an injustice I believe that the courts or evidence relating to this case is being influenced or fabricated by some outsider, I have been informed by many sources that there is no medical evidence to prove innocence or guilt in this type of case and I believe that pressure is being applied to any witnesses to tell the story how the Inspector sees fit. I am asking you to take some time to review this case as I feel there is a definite argument for a miscarriage of Justice.

Frank Lacey

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