Ottawa police to review actions in India murder probe

Ottawa's police chief has ordered a review of all records pertaining to the force's involvement in the murder investigation of an Ontario doctor who was found dead in her brother's apartment in India nine years ago.

Ottawa's police chief has ordered a review of all records pertaining to the force's involvement in the murder investigation of an Ontario doctor who was found dead in her brother's apartment in India nine years ago.

The order by Chief Charles Bordeleau comes after CBC News reported Ken Doyle, a former homicide investigator with Ottawa police, said he was instructed by his superiors in the Ottawa police service not to further investigate the case of Dr. Asha Goel. Goel was found dead and suffering from severe injuries in the apartment of her brother, Suresh Agrawal, in Mumbai on Aug. 23, 2003.

The CBC story has also prompted meetings and discussions led by the chief.

Doyle was contacted by the Goel family in 2004 to assist them with the case. Mumbai police believe another one of Goel's brothers, Ottawa resident Subhash Agrawal, helped conspire to kill her. In 2006, Mumbai police issued a warrant for his arrest.

Agrawal, who has not been formally charged, appealed the warrant and the matter is now before the courts in India.

"Because your hands are tied from the onset, I was instructed through our chain of command that we were not going to conduct an official investigation, " Doyle told CBC News. "I'm not suggesting [Agrawal] is guilty of any crime. But they seem to have the evidence in India to request an extradition order."

Asha Goel is pictured with her husband Sadan Goel in one of the last photographs before her death. (Courtesy Goel family)

Indian police said they have made repeated requests to the Canadian government for Agrawal's bank and phone records in Canada, but have had no co-operation from Canadian authorities.

"I'm really disturbed by this whole story that has come out," said NDP immigration critic Jinny Simms.

"Here we have a Canadian doctor who went to India on a holiday and while she is there she is murdered and now we have the India police accusing our authorities of not co-operating, and that really concerns me. My question is: Why are we not co-operating?"

Ottawa police say they've looked into the Goel case, but were unable to investigate until a formal request is made by Indian government for an extradition and the Canadian government accepts it.

The investigation remains in the hands of Indian authorities until the Department of Justice approaches India and approves a domestic investigation, Ottawa police have said. However, Ottawa police spokesman Marc Soucy has said that police have sent an investigator to India, but couldn't identify the individual and couldn't say when he or she might have travelled to India.

Doyle has flown to India to speak with Indian investigators, but that was on his own time after he retired from Ottawa police in January 2008.

On Friday, a spokesperson for the Justice Department said it "has no authority to instruct Canadian police on whether or not to conduct an investigation."

It added, "in relation to the death of Dr. Goel, departmental officials expressly advised the Ottawa Police Service in 2006 that they do not require the approval of the Department of Justice to pursue a domestic investigation into Mr. Agrawal."

Justice Minister Rob Nicholson told CBC News that Canada is co-operating with Indian investigators "and we will continue to do so."

A spokeswoman from the Justice Department said she could not reveal additional details about "confidential state-to-state communications."

Agrawal has denied he had anything to do with Goel's death.

"These allegations, made by other family members, that I should be investigated or charged, are utterly false and without merit, and unsupported by any evidence whatsoever over the past nine years," he said.

With files from Judy Trinh