India extradition bid dropped against West Midlands men

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ProtestersImage source, PA Media
Image caption,
A large crowd gathered outside Westminster Magistrates' Court in support of the three men

An appeal to extradite three men from the West Midlands to India has been dismissed due to insufficient evidence.

Piara Singh Gill, Amritivir Singh Wahiwala and Gursharanvir Singh Wahiwala were accused by the Indian authorities of being involved in a high-profile 2009 murder plot.

A West Midlands Police investigation in 2011 however found no evidence of this.

No further evidence was presented at Westminster Magistrates Court, meaning the men were all discharged.

The Indian government has yet to comment.

The British nationals were accused by authorities in the country of conspiring to murder Rulda Singh 12 years ago.

He was the leader of the Rashtriya Sikh Sangat political group and was fatally shot in Patiala, Punjab.

Crowds gathered outside Westminster Magistrates' Court before the hearing in support of the men, from Coventry and Wolverhampton, who have been dubbed the West Midlands Three.

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District Judge Michael Snow said the case had been "a long running saga" for the men and said there was not sufficient evidence for him to examine the extradition request, allowing them to walk free.

Despite no further action being taken against the three following the police investigation in 2011, they were rearrested in December 2020.

Mark Summers QC, representing Mr Gill and Gursharanvir Wahiwala, said the allegations against them were "wholly unjust" and they had been "pursued for 11 years without evidential basis".

Prosecutor Daniel Sternberg himself told the court the evidence was "not sufficient to make out a case to answer" for the men.

In response, Mr Summers said the concession "accords entirely with what the Indian courts themselves said in 2015".

Campaigners claim the extradition bid was politically motivated and launched a petition, signed by more than 12,000 people.

A separate hearing to address human rights issues in the case is due to follow at a later date.

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