With a Portugese court extending the detention of fugitive Khalistani terrorist Paramjit Singh Pamma till February 15 on Tuesday, immediate extradition of fugitive Khalistani terrorist Paramjit Singh Pamma is ruled out. The court’s decision was taken in view of a pending administrative decision from Portuguese minister of justice as informed to the court by the office of general public attorney, Portugal.
Sources said that Tuesday’s decision was likely to set in motion a fierce extradition battle between Indian and Portugal, reminiscent of a three-year tussle for gangster Abu Salem in 2002.
Sources said if the Portugese government had treated the case as a special case under its extradition laws, the situation would not have risen.
However, not treating the present case under the ‘exceptional’ category, the office of the general public attorney moved a letter in the Evora court on the day of hearing that India’s extradition plea had been forwarded to the ministry of justice for consideration. After this, the court extended the detention of Pamma, currently lodged in Beja Prison (two hours from Lisbon) till February 15.
Sources added the minister for justice had nearly three weeks to decide whether the extradition proceedings should start before the Evora court or the evidence presented by the Indian authorities is not sufficient to continue with the extradition proceedings.
“Pamma’s extradition documents as with the Indian authorities are with Joana Marques Vidal, the attorney general of Portugal, who will forward the formal request to the minister of justice to seek his approval before the resumption of the trial,” said Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, legal adviser to US-based human rights group Sikhs For Justice that is fighting Pamma’s case in Portugal.
According to him, they have already moved a parallel petition before the minister not to allow Pamma’s trial.
“We will rebut every evidence which Punjab Police will furnish during the trial since all the co-accused in Rulda Singh and Patiala bombing case in which his extradition is sought have been acquitted by the Indian courts,” he said
He added the furnishing of a guarantee by the Punjab government that Pamma would not be hanged if extradited to India showed lack of character of Badal-led regime as they were still struggling with Sikh prisoners who had completed their terms still languishing in jails. He claimed that the Sikh community from the UK and the US had sent more than 20,000 email requests to the President of the National Assembly of Portugal, Eduardo Ferro Rodrigues, urging him to repatriate Pamma to the UK where he has been granted indefinite refugee status since 2000.
DIG led team to return tomorrow
“A team of Indian officials lead by Patiala range deputy inspector general Balkar Sidhu that is in Portugal since Jan 21 to seek Pamma’s custody will return on Thursday evening,” said sources.
On being asked about the court’s interim order in Pamma’s extradition, Iqbal Preet Singh Sahota, director bureau of investigation, said he was yet not apprised of legal developments there. “As far as I know, all legal formalities have been completed,” he added.