Melbourne, January 5: Hit-run driver Puneet, who fled Australia after admitting to killing 19-year-old Queensland nursing student, Dean Hofstee, at Southbank in October 2008, has told an Indian court that it would be illegal to extradite him back to Melbourne.
Puneet Puneet faces a maximum jail term of over 20 years, here.
The former Indian international student in Melbourne, Puneet fled to India in June 2009 while he was on bail, awaiting sentencing for culpable driving causing death and negligently causing injury.
He used a friend’s passport to flee from Melbourne to India and remained in hiding in India before he was arrested by Indian police in Patiala in 2013.
He is now fighting extradition proceedings in a Delhi court, when he told the court that the crash happened before Australia and India signed the extradition treaty.
Kanhaiya Kumar Singal, appearing for Puneet as his lawyer, said that the procedure against his client was illegal.
“Extradition arrangements between two countries were signed in 2011,” he said.
The court in New Delhi heard that as the 2008 crash happened before an extradition treaty was activated between India and Australia, the procedure thus amounted to being illegal.
Puneet was allegedly drunk when the car he was driving crashed into two pedestrians, both Queensland students; one of them being Dean Hofstee who was killed and Clancy Coker injured.
Puneet at that time recorded a blood-alcohol reading of 0.165 and was estimated to have been travelling at 150kmh.
The Australian Federal Police fighting for Puneet’s extradition was represented by Wali Bhaskar on behalf of the Indian Government. He told the Herald Sun, that Puneet’s argument was “frivolous”.
This is Puneet’s latest attempt to avoid extradition on the shoulder of a legal loophole, but he is unlikely to succeed, according to a legal expert.
Dr Gideon Boas told 3AW Mornings that was unlikely to change things on a legal front.
“It’s still an extraditable offence,” he explained. But there is also a simultaneous concern that Puneet may use illness to avoid extradition.
The next hearing is scheduled before Magistrate Jyoti Kler on January 23.