A Delhi court on Friday cleared the extradition of "fugitive criminal" Maninder Pal Singh Kohli to Britain to stand trial for rape and murder of a British teenager with the stipulation that he be not hanged if found guilty.
Ordering extradition of Kohli on a British plea, Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate Kamini Lau ruled, "I hereby hold that there is sufficient material to establish a strong prima facie case against the fugitive, leading to an irresistible conclusion that fugitive appears to have committed the offences of kidnapping, rape and murder."
"The allegations against this fugitive is serious and this court is under an obligation to ensure that the violator is put to trial and the rule of law prevails," said Lau in her elaborate 110-page ruling.
"It is hereby recommended that extradition of Kohli is possible. The fugitive criminal, however, be extradited as per the international covenant that no death penalty is imposed on him," ruled Lau.
Kohli is accused of raping and murdering the 17-year-old British girl after kidnapping her on March 14, 2003 from a place near her home in Portswood, Southampton, where she had gone on a weekend picnic with her friends.
Hannah's body was found two days later and was identified by her mother. An autopsy on her revealed she had been raped and strangled.
After committing the crime, Kohli came to India on the pretext of seeing his ailing mother in Punjab. But after reaching here, he went into hiding. He was eventually arrested July 14, 2004 at Kalimpong in West Bengal and has been in custody since then.
According to the British prosecution agency, Hannah was waiting for a bus to her home when she was dragged by Kohli into a refrigerated van of a food company that he used to drive to deliver food material to various places.
According to details mentioned in Lau's order, what sealed Kohli's fate in the extradition proceedings was an elaborate system of Close Circuit Television camera installed at various crucial locations and intersections of British roads and a powerful mobile telephony network of the country.
While CCTV captured the images of Kohli's van at various locations at different given times, a mobile phone carried by Hannah gave her exact locations at those crucial points of time.
Lau in her order noted that the various whereabouts of Hannah, as determined from her mobile telephone, invariably coincided with the locations of Kohli's van, caught on the CCTV camera.
Soon after Lau' order, Kohli raised the bogey of racial discrimination against Asians in Britain.
He pleaded to the court to revoke its order. Otherwise, he would have to die there.
With Lau not heeding to his plea, a bitter Koli remarked, "It's all the power of UK pound."
"When our government cannot get Iqbal Mirchi (gangster) or musician Nadeem extradited here from Britain, why are you sending me back there," remarked Kohli in sheer exasperation, even though minutes earlier he had looked relaxed.