Indian Accused In US Murder Plot Can Be Extradited, Rules Czech Court

Indian Accused In US Murder Plot Can Be Extradited, Rules Czech Court

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According to a Reuters report, a Czech court has authorized the extradition of 52-year-old Indian Nikhil Gupta, who the US has accused of being involved in a plot to kill Khalistani terrorist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on US soil. The decision was made public on Friday by the Czech Justice Ministry, and Justice Minister Pavel Blazek will make the final decision after the decision has been sent to all parties involved in the case.

US federal prosecutors accuse Gupta, who was detained by Czech authorities in June of last year in Prague, of working with an Indian government official in an attempt to kill Pannun, a Sikh separatist who holds dual citizenship with the US and Canada.

Gupta maintained that he was not the person the US was looking for and claimed that there was a case of mistaken identity, according to the Czech news website seznamzpravy dot com. His description of the case as “political” in nature created the possibility of a drawn-out legal dispute.

A spokesman for the Czech Justice Ministry told news agency Reuters that “the time frame for the minister’s decision cannot be assumed at this point.”

According to a ministry spokesperson, the Justice Minister has three months to ask the Czech Supreme Court for its opinion if there are any questions about the rulings of the lower court. Gupta’s appeal against a December decision by a lower court that permitted extradition was previously denied by the Prague High Court.

Historically, requests for American extradition have been granted by the Czech Republic. The Czech court has been urged by Gupta’s attorney not to approve the extradition.

According to a December 2018 Financial Times story, “CC-1,” a senior Indian official, was charged with masterminding the plot to assassinate him. In an indictment, the US Department of Justice asserted that CC-1, corresponding with Gupta via encrypted applications, arranged the murder plot in return for helping Gupta settle a criminal case in India.

The indictment claims that in order to further the plot, Gupta—dubbed a “international narcotics trafficker” by the US—met CC-1 face-to-face in New Delhi. According to reports, the deal included paying an undercover agent $100,000 to kill Pannun in New York City while he was posing as a hitman.

The US government argued that it will only produce evidence related to the charges against Gupta upon his appearance and arraignment in a court of law located in New York City.

Gupta is facing serious charges that, if proven true, could carry two 10-year prison sentences. He is alleged to have planned with the unidentified Indian government official to recruit an undercover FBI agent for the assassination.

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