Body of royal hoax nurse reaches India: police

AFP, MANGALORE, India

Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - Page 5

The body of an Indian-born nurse who was found hanged after taking a hoax call to the hospital treating Prince William’s wife arrived in Mangalore yesterday following a memorial Mass in London.

Jacintha Saldanha, 46, apparently committed suicide after answering the prank telephone call from two Australian radio DJs.

Saldanha’s funeral is expected to take place today near Mangalore in Shirva, the home town of her husband Benedict Barboza, who accompanied her body on yesterday’s flight to India along with their son, 16, and daughter, 14.

“Jacintha and her family, they were working in the UK to earn their daily bread,” Stany Tauro, priest of the Our Lady of Health Church in Shirva, told reporters. “The community is sad over the death.”

He said locals were proud that she had been a successful nurse in a hospital where the British royal family were treated, but that many were shocked by the tragedy.

Tauro said residents would be able to pay their respects to the body before the Mass scheduled at 4pm and the burial ceremony.

C. Mutthiah, deputy commissioner of police in Mangalore, confirmed the body had landed, while a family source told reporters it would be kept in a mortuary overnight and taken to Shirva today.

Saldanha’s frail mother lives along with her other daughter and a son in Mangalore, 360km from Bangalore, the state capital of Karnataka.

“I feel very sorry that those two kids, they lost their mother’s love and affection,” local politician DV Sadananda Gowda said. “The government ... is seeking an enquiry so that the truth should come out and what the reasons are behind this incident [are].”

Saldanha’s body arrived a day after the nurse’s children told a service at London’s Westminster Cathedral that her death had created “an unfillable void” in their lives.

“We will miss your laughter, the loving memories and the good times we had together. The house is an empty dwelling without your presence,” her daughter Lisha said.

A London inquest last week heard that Saldanha, who moved to Britain about 12 years ago, had been found hanged in staff accommodation on Dec. 7, and that there were no suspicious circumstances over her death.

Saldanha left three notes, one of which reportedly criticized her colleagues over her treatment at the King Edward VII private hospital after the hoax call.

The hospital has defended itself, saying it offered support to Saldanha and had stressed to her she would not be disciplined for being taken in by the call.

Indian students marched to the British High Commission in New Delhi on Saturday, carrying banners demanding “justice for Jacintha.”

The demonstrators alleged in a statement that “as a person of Indian origin she was isolated, victimized and subjected to harassment by the authorities.”

Australian police say death threats have been made against the DJs from Sydney’s 2Day FM radio station who made the call posing as Queen Elizabeth and William’s father, Prince Charles. The presenters made tearful apologies last week.