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Puneet case: Centre says fugitive should be extradited to Australia

Puneet PunNew Delhi, Dec 18, 2013 (Agency)

 

The central government told a Delhi court Wednesday that the 24-year-old youth accused of killing a man in Australia in an accident five years ago should be extradited for trial.

Puneet had been on the run from authorities in Australia for five years. As a 19-year-old in 2008, he had lost control of his car and rammed the vehicle into two pedestrians in Melbourne, causing the death of one man and seriously injuring the other.

He was recently arrested in Punjab and remanded in judicial custody. Puneet has pleaded that there is a risk to his life if extradited to Australia for trial.

The counsel for the central government, Naveen Kumar Matta and A.K. Vali, requested Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Sudesh Kumar to dismiss Puneet's application. He is now in judicial custody in Delhi.

The government counsel said Puneet's plea is an abuse of the process of law and an attempt to further delay long-delayed extradition proceedings.

Advocate Matta apprised the court that the accused had pleaded guilty in an Australian court.

Puneet's counsel said he had only pleaded guilty under pressure, and if extradited, he would be put behind bars.

Matta said it was the prerogative of the government to take an appropriate decision on whether or not to extradite the young man. The court could not express an opinion in the matter, he said.

The court has posted the matter for further hearing to Jan 9 and extended the period of Puneet's judicial custody till then.

In his plea, Puneet said his life was at risk "because of the racist attitude of Australians towards Indian citizens, as evident from the fact that they are taking keen interest in extradition of the accused, by announcing an award of Australian $100,000."

Even Australia-based websites say that the accused will be in imminent danger of being killed or harmed seriously, he said.

The centre told the court that opinions expressed on social networking websites cannot be construed as the opinion of the general public at large, or for that matter, of the government of Australia. The centre's counsel said the Australian government is pursuing the matter and an extradition request had been received.

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