December 27, 2015 | By Natasha Donn
London: The arrest by Portuguese authorities of an Indian father-of-four as he began a holiday with his family in the Algarve just before Christmas has “ignited Sikh groups across the world”, writes the online Sikh press association.
In the UK, the Sikh Federation is lobbying 150 British MPs for Paramjeet Singh’s “safe return” from Portugal before the January 4 court date that could see him extradited to India.
In its letter now being sent out to MPs, the federation says it fears Portuguese authorities “may be being denied” the details they need to properly adjudicate.
The group claims British authorities have been “slow in sharing relevant information”, and that if extradited, Singh “may never see his family, and especially his children (all British citizens) again”.
As we explained in our story before Christmas, the allegations against Singh – a political refugee living in the UK for 13 years – could see him put to death if extradited to India. They centre on allegations that he was involved in murder and bomb attacks in the Punjab in 2009 and 2010.
According to Singh’s legal team, he was nowhere near the Punjab in those years.
But for reasons as yet unclear, a red corner notice was issued by Interpol and ignored by authorities until Singh had left British soil and landed in Portugal.
The 42-year-old was arrested by police only after he checked into his Algarve hotel.
The Sikh Federation’s letter explains the so-called case against Singh “was already investigated in an 11-month joint investigation with Indian and British police in 2010, and the evidence was unsatisfactory for Paramjeet Singh to be charged”.
It continues: “British authorities already have all the information needed to secure (Singh’s) release and return to the UK”, while Singh’s local councillor Preet Kaur Gill has highlighted the key issues:
“Why was Paramjeet arrested only once he left the UK? If the British government feels he will not receive a fair trial in India, is it right for Portugal to allow him to be extradited? Is Portugal in breach of EU laws by extraditing him somewhere that allows the death penalty? Before any decision is made on Paramjeet’s future, it is only right these questions are answered.
For now, efforts are being made by all sides to be ready for the next court hearing in Évora.
Press reports in India six days ago claim local police there are “beginning groundwork” for what they call the “smooth extradition” of Singh from Portugal.
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