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Indian taxi driver to face murder trial

An Indian taxi driver in Melbourne will stand trial on charges of murdering a passenger, a member of a rowdy gang that allegedly abused him.

india Updated: Sep 02, 2006 14:16 IST

An Indian taxi driver in Melbourne will stand trial on charges of murdering a passenger - a member of a rowdy gang that allegedly abused him, as well as cricketer Shane Warne.

Rajbinder Singh Shahi, 29, has been accused of intentionally ramming Xavier Salmon, 18, with his taxi last December.

Shahi was ordered by the Melbourne Magistrate Court to stand trial in the Supreme Court, according to reports.

It is alleged that Shahi deliberately drove at the teenager and a group of his friends in the Port Melbourne area after they hurled abuses and threw a beer bottle at his cab.

Witnesses said Shahi drove directly at Salmon and two friends, hitting him and sending him flying into the air before he landed in a gutter.

The court was informed that the teenagers were members of a rowdy group travelling from the city and had also abused cricketer Shane Warne from Shahi's taxi at a traffic signal.

"It all started politely at the lights when they pulled up alongside me, then they started to get abusive. Whilst still at the lights I was pointing to the taxi driver and even said to him that he should drop his passengers off because of the behaviour of the passengers," a report in the Herald Sun quoted Warne as telling police in a testimony earlier.

Shahi told the court he feared for his safety after a man had fatally stabbed a cab driver a month before the incident.

"I had to drive at him to protect myself," another report in the Age quoted him as telling investigators.

Shahi told police his passengers damaged his taxi and added that he "may have hit one of them".

Meanwhile, Magistrate Peter Reardon remanded Shahi to custody and ordered him to stand trial at the Supreme Court on December 5.