Indian too ill for extradition, Aussie court told

Melbourne, June 29 (IANS) The lawyer for an Indian man who fled Australia after killing a student in a Melbourne hit-and-run said he will use his client’s serious medical condition to fight any extradition.

Puneet was allegedly drunk and driving at 148 km per hour when he hit and killed 19-year-old student Dean Hofstee and seriously injured 20-year-old Clancy Coker in 2008, ABC reported on Monday.

Puneet pleaded guilty to culpable driving and negligently causing serious injury. But in 2009 while on bail awaiting sentencing, he left Australia using his friend’s passport.

He was on the run for four years before being arrested in the Indian city of Patiala in 2013 and was imprisoned awaiting extradition.

He was released on bail last month based on a medical report that said he was 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?” Puneet’s lawyer Kanhaiya Singhal said. He said Puneet was being treated in a Delhi hospital.

According to his jail records, Puneet was suffering from the illness before he was jailed and his condition did not improve despite treatment.

Prosecution sources have told the ABC it would be very difficult to challenge the order that granted the defendant bail and they were focusing their efforts on the extradition proceedings.

As part of his bail, Puneet is required to appear at future extradition hearings.

The 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.

“He will face the trial, face the extradition hearing till the end.”

Singhal said Puneet was willing to face trial in India, where the penalty for culpable driving is two years in prison. In Australia it is a maximum of 20 years.

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