Murdered girl's parents tell of journey to trap suspect

THE parents of the murdered teenager Hannah Foster yesterday spoke of the range of emotions they experienced - from hopelessness to elation - during their ten-day trip to India which led to the capture of the prime suspect.

Trevor and Hilary Foster flew to India earlier this month to hold a series of press conferences and to launch a telephone hotline.

Their visit created massive interest in the Indian press, with front-page articles in every national paper, and within five days of their arrival, Maninder Pal Singh Kohli was arrested by Indian police.

He was detained after a tip-off from a member of the public in the West Bengal region, close to the Nepalese border.

Hannah, 17, a promising student who had gained places at university to study medicine, was abducted half a mile from her home in Hampshire, on 14 March last year.

Her body was found two days later in a country lane on the outskirts of Southampton. A post-mortem examination revealed she had been raped and strangled.

Extradition proceedings have now begun to bring Kohli, who lived in Southampton, back to the UK to face charges of kidnap, rape and murder.

Mr Foster, 53, said: "Hilary and I got back yesterday from India after an experience which has left us both physically exhausted and emotionally drained, yet one which we would not have changed for the world.

"News of the arrest left us enormously pleased and relieved, and fully vindicated our decision to go to India in the first place."

Mr Foster said the trip had been prompted by their belief that the Indian investigation had stalled.

He said: "We set off to India with some misgiving, but with a strong motivation, hoping to raise public awareness of the case and to reinvigorate an investigation by the Punjabi police that appeared to us, from a distance of 4,000 miles, to be treading water, with little sign of any major breakthrough after 16 months of trying."

He added: "In the event, the reaction to our visit exceeded our wildest dreams."

Mrs Foster, 47, said they had gained a great respect and fondness for the Indian people during their visit.

She said: "I think the Indian people are very family orientated and they just identified with our tragedy and were just enthusiastic and keen to find the prime suspect.

"The Indian people just took us into their hearts. From the moment we landed, we were met with people expressing amazing empathy and just genuine sympathy."

He added: "This is the end of the first phase in getting justice for Hannah. There is a long way still to go in terms of the extradition process and then the criminal justice proceedings."

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