30 Jun 2005

Fiji investigation into missing teenagers explores links with an earlier disappearance

10:12 am on 30 June 2005

In Fiji, the mystery surrounding the disappearance of three teenage girls from an ethnic Indian farming family near Rakiraki has deepened.

Originally the 42-year man who took them on a picnic last Sunday said he was attacked while they were at sea and the girls were kidnapped.

But there are new revelations that another teenage girl, known to the three who are now missing, disappeared from the same place three years ago and has never been found.

The eldest of the three, Ashika Lata, was a witness to the 2002 disappearance of 16-year old Vandhana Jeet.

The divisional crime officer, Superintendent Vijay Singh, says they are now questioning neighbours and relatives over the new lead.

The man who took them for the picnic, Dip Chand, was taken in again last night to help with police inquiries.

Meanwhile, men from the police Tactical Response Unit have joined regular officers from Fiji's west, local residents and nearby villagers to continue the search for the missing girls.

Police divers have checked the seabed but have so far found nothing.