Indian to fight extradition to Aus in hit-and-run case: lawyer

Indian to fight extradition to Aus in hit-and-run case: lawyer

Indian to fight extradition to Aus in hit-and-run case: lawyer

An Indian youth, who allegedly mowed down an Australian student and injured another in a 2008 hit-and-run case here, will fight attempts to extradite him using his medical condition from India where he is currently living, a media report said today.

Puneet Kumar, 26, was granted bail in New Delhi late last month and his legal team are arguing he should be tried in India where the potential jail sentence for culpable driving is a tenth of what it could be in Victoria, ABC News reported.

Kumar has been accused of killing 19-year-old Queensland student Dean Hofstee under the influence of alcohol.

Kumar, who was driving at 148 kilometres per hour, also injured 20-year-old Clancy Coker in the incident.

He pleaded guilty to culpable driving and negligently causing serious injury but while on bail awaiting sentencing in 2009 fled to India on his friend's passport. He was arrested in Patiala two years ago.

After his arrest and awaiting extradition, he was released on bail last month based on a medical report that said he is suffering from the potentially life-threatening kidney condition glomerulonephritis.

"What is the purpose of taking him (from) India to Australia... and there also he is admitted in the hospital?" Kumar's lawyer Kanhaiya Singhal said, adding that his client was willing to face trial in India.

According to his jail medical records, Kumar was suffering from the illness before he was imprisoned and his condition was not improving despite treatment.

Prosecution sources were quoted as saying that it would be very difficult to challenge the order that granted Kumar bail and that they were focussing their efforts on the extradition proceedings.

As part of his bail, Kumar is required to appear at future extradition hearings.
His lawyer said his client would appear if his health permits as he does not want to avoid justice.

"He is not going to run away," Singhal said, adding "He will face the trial, face the extradition hearing till the end." He said Kumar is being treated in a Delhi hospital.
Kumar's parents said their son fled Australia because he had no money after he lost his job, and was facing racist attacks.

"When he was there, all the newspapers published his photos after the accident," his father Naresh Kumar said.

"After that, there were racial attacks on him, people came over to his house and attacked him," he said.

Kumar's legal team is fighting his extradition on several other grounds, including that he may be subjected to racist attacks if he returns to Melbourne.

"They will kill him in jail because there is racism there and discrimination exists between white and black," his father said. "It was there before and it exists till today."

India and Australia signed a new extradition treaty in 2011. 

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