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  4. Pannun case: Nikhil Gupta's extradition plea rejected, Czech Republic Court says can be extradited to US

Pannun case: Nikhil Gupta's extradition plea rejected, Czech Republic Court says can be extradited to US

The Czech Constitutional Court dismissed the appeal from Nikhil Gupta, an Indian citizen held in a Prague prison, challenging his extradition to the US. Gupta faces accusations of involvement in a murder-for-hire plot targeting a Khalistani leader Pannun on American territory.

Edited By: Ajeet Kumar @Ajeet1994 Prague Published on: May 23, 2024 16:16 IST
Khalistani Gurupatwant Singh Pannun
Image Source : AP Khalistani leader Gurupatwant Singh Pannun

The Czech Constitutional Court has rejected a petition by Indian national Nikhil Gupta, detained in a prison in Prague, against his extradition to the US to face murder-for-hire charges in an alleged assassination attempt on a Khalistani extremist on American soil.

Gupta, 52, was charged by US federal prosecutors in an indictment unsealed in November last year with working with an Indian government employee in the foiled plot to kill Khalistani separatist Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, who holds dual American and Canadian citizenships, in the US.

Gupta was arrested in Prague, the Czech Republic on June 30, 2023, and is being held there currently. The US government is seeking his extradition to America.

The Czech Constitutional Court heard a petition by Gupta against the extradition. "The Constitutional Court did not find any circumstance for which declaring extradition admissible would lead to a violation of any of the constitutionally guaranteed fundamental rights and freedoms," the court said in a statement on Wednesday.

The court said it ruled that lower courts had given due consideration to aspects that may prevent extradition. It also rejected arguments that the case was political. "For the complainant, this brings the proceedings before the Czech courts to an end."

The Constitutional Court said it has now confirmed the decision of the general courts on the admissibility of extradition, upholding the Municipal Court and The High Court's order.

The court also upheld the local court's decision to reject Gupta’s request for release from pre-trial detention and did not accept compensation for detention in the form of a monetary guarantee, or in the form of a ban on travel abroad. Before the Constitutional Court, the applicant said courts did not examine all the essential circumstances that could become an obstacle to extradition, according to the statement. A Czech high court in January ruled Gupta can be extradited to the US.

A final decision on whether to extradite Gupta will be made by Justice Minister Pavel Blazek. The Washington Post, in April 2024, reported that Vikram Yadav, a Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) officer, was the Indian official behind the plot. The paper also said the then R&AW chief Samant Goel sanctioned the operation.

The Indian Ministry of External Affairs, however, dismissed the report, saying it makes “unwarranted and unsubstantiated imputations” to claim that Indian agents were involved in the plot to kill Pannun. India has publicly said a high-level inquiry is looking into the evidence shared by the US in the alleged plot to kill Pannun.

(With inputs from agency)

Also Read: Pannun case: Indian national accused in murder plot can be extradited to US, rules Czech court


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