Indian Student Flees Australia Before Sentencing In Car Crash Case

by Gopalan on  August 23, 2009 at 1:41 PM Alcohol & Drug Abuse News   - G J E 4
 Indian Student Flees Australia Before Sentencing In Car Crash Case
The boot is on the other leg now. An Indian student has fled Australia before sentencing a car crash case. A Queenslander was killed and another seriously injured in the accident.

Puneet Puneet, 19, had pleaded guilty, but before the verdict was pronounced, has given the slip to the police and probably flown home. Victoria Police believe he fled to New Delhi using the passport of another Indian student on June 12, just a few hours after reporting for bail.

The Australian government is to take up the matter with the Indian authorities.

Gold Coast student Dean Hofstee, 19, was killed in Melbourne last October. A speeding car slammed into him and his friend Clancy Coker outside a city hotel.

Puneet Puneet, a learner driver, 19, was travelling at 150 kilometres per hour in a 60kph zone. His blood alcohol reading was 0.165, police say.

Outside the County Court in Melbourne yesterday, Mr Hofstee's father, Peter Hofstee, said he was bitterly disappointed that Puneet appeared to have fled the country before his pre-sentencing hearing.

Late yesterday, Victoria Police charged a 20-year-old Indian student living in Melbourne.

They allege Sukhcharanjit Singh gave his passport to Puneet. Singh appeared in court and has been remanded in custody.

"It would be important for Dean to see that justice is done. I certainly hope that the authorities manage to extradite him [Puneet] back to Australia to face the charges and finalise the matter," he said.

Judge Lisa Hannan issued an arrest warrant for Puneet.

Australia and India agreed to an extradition treaty in June last year but the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says it is not yet in force, ABC News reported.

A professor of international law at the Australian National University, Don Rothwell, says the arrest warrant issued in Melbourne cannot be executed in India until the treaty comes into force.

"For the time being, providing that the Indian fugitive remains in India, he would effectively be exempt from the reach of the arrest warrant, providing he stays in India," Professor Rothwell said.

"Once the extradition treaty enters into force, Indian authorities would be bound to uphold and process the extradition request, and to seek to lodge an arrest warrant within India to seek out and detain this individual."

Professor Rothwell says he does not think this case will delay the treaty.

"In 2008 in addition to the extradition treaty, Australia also concluded a mutual assistance treaty dealing with matters of criminal interest between the two countries, and since then of course we've had the terrorist events in Bombay and no doubt the Australian Federal Police have got interests in matters that are occurring in India," he said.

"I think the Australian Government, perhaps even the Indian Government, has made clear that they're going to differentiate the recent troubles about Indian student concerns in Australia from other important aspects of bilateral relationships.

"So it would be hoped I think, and perhaps even expected, certainly in Canberra, that this would not be an issue which would delay the eventual entry into force of this extradition treaty."

Source: Medindia

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