A New Zealand court has sentenced a Sikh leader to community detention and community work for forging election documents in an attempt to win a local-body seat three years ago.
Labour Party member and Justice of the Peace leader Daljit Singh, 43, was found guilty in the Auckland high court of two charges of dealing with forged documents. Justice Mark Woolford said it was the first case of electoral fraud conviction in New Zealand.
The Sikh leader had changed addresses to show that people from places such as Timaru and Tauranga lived in the Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board area in Auckland, say Thursday's media reports. Daljit Singh, who lost the first Auckland "super-city" election in 2010, was found not guilty of 18 other counts of the same charge, the reports have said, adding that the charges carried a maximum term of 10-year jail.
Dalhit could have faced 12 months in jail but after reviewing submissions, judge Woolford sentenced him to only five-month community detention and 200 hours community work. The judge cited that there was a cultural context to the leader's offending. "The case caused great damage to the Sikh community, and deep divisions. You have much to repair in your community," the verdict added.
The six men found guilty after the jury trial last year include Gurinder Atwal, 40, on 13 charges, and Malkeet Singh on six. On Gurinder, the judge said he was one of the two most culpable of the offenders and could have gone behind bars for 14 months instead of the six-month community detention and 200 hours of community work on each charge to be served concurrently.
Malkeet Singh was sentenced to three-month community detention and 200 hours of community work. Paramjit Singh, 51, convicted on one charge, was sentenced to 300-hour community work; and Mandeep Singh, 31, will do 200-hour community work, the same as Virender Singh, 42, convicted on one charge.