BANGALORE, India (AFP) – The body of an Indian-born nurse who apparently hanged herself after being duped by a royal hoax call to a London hospital was due to arrive on Sunday in the Indian city of Mangalore, police said.
Jacintha Saldanha, 46, was found dead days after answering the prank telephone call from two Australian radio DJs posing as British royals to the hospital treating Prince William’s pregnant wife Catherine for morning sickness.
Mangalore, some 357 kilometres (221 miles) from the high-tech southern city of Bangalore, is where the mother of Saldanha lives along with another daughter and a son.
Saldanha’s body will arrive a day after the children of the nurse told a mass in her memory at London’s Westminster Cathedral, the main Catholic church in England, that her death had created “an unfillable void”.
Her husband, 14-year-old daughter and 16-year-old son paid tribute to a loving wife and mother, whose death following what the hospital described as a “cruel trick”, had left them bereft.
“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.
“We love you Mum,” she said.
Police in Mangalore, near Shirva town where Saldanha’s family plan to hold her funeral, told AFP the body would be accompanied by the nurse’s husband, Benedict Barboza, 49, and the children.
“Jacintha’s body is expected to arrive in Mangalore on Sunday afternoon,” Mangalore police commissioner Manish Kardikar told AFP.
Reverend William Menezes, spokesman for the Diocese of Mangalore, told AFP the funeral would take place on Monday at 4:00 pm (1030 GMT) in Shirva and police said as many as 5,000 people were expected to attend.
A London inquest last week heard that Saldanha, who moved to Britain from India around a dozen years ago, had been found hanging in hospital accommodation on December 7.
A few days earlier, the nurse put the prank call from the Australian radio station through to a colleague, who relayed details about Kate’s condition that made global headlines.
Saldanha, whose death shocked many around the world, left three notes, one of which reportedly criticised her colleagues over treatment at the King Edward VII private hospital.
The hospital 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.
Dozens of Indian students marched to the British High Commission in New Delhi on Saturday, calling for a probe into what they claimed was a “mysterious death”, according to a statement issued by them.
The demonstrators carried banners demanding “Justice for Jacintha” and alleged that “as a person of Indian origin she was isolated, victimised and subjected to harassment by the authorities”.
Australian police say death threats have been made against Michael Christian and Mel Greig, the DJs from Sydney’s 2Day FM radio station who made the call. The presenters made tearful apologies last week.