New Zealand teenager attended child’s party before killing Indian

June 14th, 2008 - 3:03 pm ICT by IANS  


Auckland, June 14 (IANS) A teenager charged with the murder of Navtej Singh at his liquor store in Auckland was attending a little girl’s birthday party before he decided to get alcohol, his mother said Saturday. Thirty-year-old Navtej Singh, a father of three, was fatally shot in the chest at close range during the armed robbery of his liquor store in suburban Auckland on the night of June 7. He died the next day in Middlemore Hospital.

The mother of one of the people arrested for Navtej Singh’s murder told the Weekend New Zealand Herald that she had loaned her car to her son June 7 to attend a child’s birthday party. On Thursday, when she received a call from the police asking for her son, she realised her vehicle was the one police had been seeking.

The mother immediately took her son to the police station and the latter was charged with one firearms offence relating to the robbery of Singh, during which cash, alcohol and prepaid phonecards worth about New Zealand $4,000 ($3,000) were allegedly stolen, according to the Herald.

On Friday, more people were arrested for being involved in Navtej Singh’s murder.

Detective Inspector Jim Gallagher of the Counties Manukau Police said: “We are relieved to have been in the position to have brought this sort of result reasonably promptly for the benefit of Mr Singh’s family and his community. They are lovely people and cannot comprehend at all the actions of these individuals that have brought short the life of Mr Singh through what they did in the shop.”

Anitelea Chan Kee, 20, and Tino Faamele Felise, 17, have been charged with Navtej Singh’s murder, aggravated robbery and armed robbery. Mefiposeta Chan Kee, 24, has been charged with being an accessory for disposing of packaging around alcohol taken during the fatal raid and the .22 calibre rifle used to shoot Navtej Singh, according to media reports.

Other suspects face various charges, including aggravated robbery and being accessories to the crime. All will be held until Aug 6.

On Thursday, family members were joined by thousands of members of the Indian and other communities at Navtej Singh’s funeral.

According to reports in the New Zealand Herald and New Zealand Press Association (NZPA), Navtej Singh’s wife, Harjinder Kaur, was comforted by family members as she followed the dark brown open casket bearing her husband into the chapel.

Navtej Singh’s father, Nahar Singh, told mourners that his son loved New Zealand and would wake up at 4 a.m. to go to work at his liquor store until 11 p.m.

Rich tributes were paid to Navtej Singh. A member of the Central Indian Association in New Zealand was quoted in the local media as saying: “I pray for your soul to rest at peace, brother. The soul gets elevated by the deeds that you do. What we can do today is make sure that your sacrifice does not go unheard. We will see that your wife and daughters live out a good life.”

A trust fund, Navtej Fundraising, has been set up for the family as messages of support were continuing to pour in from local and wider New Zealand communities.

Following the fatal shooting of Navtej Singh, Maori wardens have been out patrolling the streets of South Auckland in an attempt to reassure the community as shopkeepers in the area fear they could also face violence, according to Television New Zealand (TVNZ).

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