Sister of Latvian tourist killed at Kovalam recalls her legal battle

Ilza launched a legal battle with the help of friends. Finally, a court delivered a verdict which found both accused – Umesh and Udayan of Panathura - guilty : Manorama Online

Thiruvananthapuram: Ilza Skromane, sister of Latvian tourist Liga Skromane who was raped and killed at Kovalam in 2018, is eager to hear the sentence to be awarded on Monday to the two accused who have been found guilty of the crime. Meanwhile, Ilza is working overtime at her beauty parlour in Cork city, Ireland, to pay off the debts caused by the legal battle she fought to secure justice for Liga.

Incidentally, it was Liga who suggested the name ‘Beauty Crime’ for the parlour, which was opened in 2014. The beauty parlour also has a tagline, ‘Commit to something beautiful.’

After the tragedy of 2018, Ilza had to take a break from her business and the COVID-19 crisis that followed made things worse.

Liga had gone missing on March 14, 2018, during a visit to Kerala. She had arrived for Ayurvedic treatment at a centre in Pothencode, Thiruvananthapuram for depression and Ilza had accompanied her as a bystander. That fateful day, Liga went for a morning walk and was never seen again. After a police complaint was filed in the evening, a search was launched and Liga’s body was recovered one month later.

Ilza launched a legal battle with the help of friends. Finally, a court delivered a verdict which found both accused – Umesh and Udayan of Panathura - guilty.

Ilza spoke to Manorama Online about the case.

Now that that the court has pronounced a guilty verdict, do you think justice has been delivered?
I am really happy with the verdict. God heard our prayers and justice has been done to my sister. God has blessed me as well as our family and everyone who worked for the success of this case.

Could you share some experiences related to your legal fight?
We faced so many challenges. After returning to Ireland from India in 2018, I wanted to come here again to pursue the case. However, as my business was down, I couldn’t make the trip. The pandemic soon followed.

In 2021, I obtained a visa and reached Kerala. We then approached the High Court. Those days were difficult.

I had to spend nine months at a stretch in Kerala, waiting for the trial to begin and it adversely affected my business.

Meanwhile, our grandmother in Latvia, who was very close to Liga and me, was admitted to hospital in a bad condition and I had to rush to Latvia. Soon after my arrival, grandma passed away.

I again came to Kerala leaving my family and business.

What were the incidents related to the case which you cannot forget?
The day Liga’s body was found and the day it was cremated will always remain in my memories. I wished to visit the spot where the body was found. However, I did not go there after local people told me that it was an isolated area.

Liga’s mortal remains were recovered on my birthday. I had prayed for seeing her again, either dead or alive. That prayer was, in a painful way, fulfilled.

I wanted to perform the last rites for Liga as per Latvian custom by placing flowers and playing her favourite songs. But she was cremated at Shanthi Kavadam at Thycaud in Thiruvananthapuram. So many people crowded the place and I couldn’t go anywhere near her body. I didn’t stop crying for two days after her cremation.

Earlier, during our search for Liga, we had visited several villages in Kerala and Tamil Nadu. Everywhere we went, the villages were friendly, welcoming us with food and water. I cannot forget such experiences.

How did the authorities in Kerala treat you?
Everyone was supportive. We submitted a complaint to the Director General of Police on the fourth day after Liga went missing. The present Additional Director General of Police Manoj Abraham was really helpful.

Will you visit Kerala again?
If everything works as planned, I will be in Kerala during October next year.  

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