Extradition pending of Indian American murder accused

March 9th, 2008 - 12:27 pm ICT by admin  

By Kanu Sarda
New Delhi, March 9 (IANS) For the parents of Hannah Foster it was justice of sorts when their teenaged daughter’s murderer was extradited to Britain from India last year, but the parents of Indian American Deepa Agarwal are still battling to get their daughter’s killer extradited to the US even after eight years. The inordinate delay in the extradition of Kamlesh Aggarwal, who is accused of killing his cousin Deepa on July 11, 1999, at Orlando, Florida, seems to be testing the patience of the victim’s parents.

Last July the Delhi High Court allowed the extradition of British Indian Maninder Pal Singh Kohli to the United Kingdom to stand trial for the rape and murder of Hannah Claire Foster in March 2003. Kohli, a truck driver in Britain, fled to India after her body was found. He was arrested July 14, 2004, at Kalimpong in West Bengal.

Deepa’s parents are hoping Kamlesh will be extradited too after going through the grind of court hearings in India. The case comes up in the Delhi High Court on March 11, when arguments from Kamlesh’s side may be concluded and the court may fix a date for pronouncing the judgement.

However, Deepa’s parents are not the only ones who have to face the challenge of attending court proceedings to ensure that the person who committed a crime in another country is extradited for trial.

The Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) estimates that there are over four dozen extradition cases in courts in India. Extradition may be described as the surrender of an alleged or convicted criminal by one country to another.

According to an MEA lawyer, nearly 50 cases of extradition are still pending in different courts of Delhi.

“Sending a request is not the only requirement for extraditing a person. The basic need is to follow the case step by step to hasten the process of justice,” the MEA lawyer said.

Despairing over the delay, Mangi L. Agarwal, father of Deepa, told IANS: “I don’t understand why there is so much delay in completing the extradition procedure in India when all the evidence clearly establishes the fact that Kamlesh is the one who killed my daughter.”

Deepa was just 20 when she was murdered.

“My daughter was a very bright student and was about to complete her PhD from the University of Central Florida. I don’t know what went wrong between her and Kamlesh and he killed her,” said Agarwal.

He makes it a point to attend every court proceeding. “If I can’t attend, my wife Parvati goes to the court to seek justice for our daughter,” said Agarwal.

Deepa’s decomposed body was found “sealed” in a cardboard carton inside the bedroom closet nine days after the murder. The police autopsy report confirmed the cause of death as fracture of the spine from a blow by a blunt instrument. Several knife wounds were reportedly spotted on the body, suggesting a “violent altercation” before death.

The suspicion fell on Kamlesh Agarwal, then 22 years old and a student of Bachelor in Computer Science in the same university.

During investigation, a neighbour told the police that on the fateful night she had heard a woman’s scream from Deepa’s apartments, followed by “thumps” - as if “something was being shoved against the wall”.

But by the time investigators could nab Kamlesh, he fled the US on July 12, 2000, leaving his studies midway.

On July 14, 2000, the police, acting on an Interpol alert, arrested Kamlesh from a hotel in Mumbai where he was staying under the false name of Pankaj Saraf.

A month later, a grand jury in the US charged Kamlesh with “first-degree murder” and ordered that he stand for trial.

In September 2000, the State of Florida forwarded an extradition request to India.

In October 2002, an inquiry report by the Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate’s court here recommended Kamlesh’s extradition, citing “prima facie” evidence of murder against him.

In 2002, the trial court in Delhi had allowed the extradition of Kamlesh Agarwal but he challenged the order in the Delhi High Court and the case is still going on.

“The procedure of law is so slow in India that at one point of time I thought of leaving the entire battle, but my younger daughter Shiela encouraged me every time I felt low,” said Agarwal.

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