Justice at last for daughter’s killer? A father hopes

April 25th, 2008 - 11:24 am ICT by admin  

By Kanu Sarda
New Delhi, April 25 (IANS) Nine years after his daughter was allegedly brutally killed by her cousin in the US, justice finally seems close at hand. The Delhi High Court has just finished hearing the case and a grieving Mangi L. Agarwal is hoping that his nephew will be extradited to the US to face retribution. “At least I have a ray of hope that the killer of my daughter Deepa will be punished,” Agarwal told IANS, as the Delhi High Court Tuesday reserved its order on the extradition of the Indian American.

While it is not yet clear which way the verdict will go, Agarwal is optimistic that Kamlesh Agarwal will sent back to the US for the 1999 murder of Deepa Agarwal in Orlando, Florida. He had fled to India the year after and has been here since.

A division bench headed by Justice Vikramjit Sen, while reserving the order in the eight-year-old extradition case, also pulled up the ministry of external affairs (MEA) for not submitting the case file of the trial court for its reference.

“We have asked you to submit the file on the said date, since you (ministry) have not abided by it, thereby I ordered them to send an apology letter along with the reason for not bringing the case records to the court,” said Justice Sen.

His observations came six years after the trial court in Delhi allowed Kamlesh to be extradited and he challenged the ruling.

The wheels of justice have moved slowly since the July 11, 1999, murder of Deepa Agarwal in Orlando. She was just 20 and was studying in the University of Central Florida.

Her decomposed body was found “sealed” in a cardboard carton inside the bedroom closet nine days after the murder. The 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, then 22 years old and studying computer science in the same university.

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

But before investigators could nab Kamlesh, he made his getaway from the US on July 12, 2000, leaving his studies midway.

Two days later, police in India, acting on an Interpol alert, arrested him 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.

As he waits for the law to close in on Kamlesh, Agarwal remembers Deepa: “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.”

(Kanu Sarda can be contacted at kanu.s@ians.in)

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