Cops fly to Prague to extradite accused wanted in US model’s murder

Palghar: A four-member team from the Mira Bhayander Vasai Virar Commissionerate (MBVV) led by Zone 1 DCP Amit Kale has reached Prague to extradite Vipul Patel a key accused in the murder of US-based model Leona Swiderski (33)
The police team will return from Prague on 27 May and the two accused Patel and Desai will be produced before the court said the official. (StockPic)
The police team will return from Prague on 27 May and the two accused Patel and Desai will be produced before the court said the official. (StockPic)
Published on May 23, 2022 12:28 AM IST
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ByRam Parmar

Palghar: A four-member team from the Mira Bhayander Vasai Virar Commissionerate (MBVV) led by Zone 1 DCP Amit Kale has reached Prague to extradite Vipul Patel a key accused in the murder of US-based model Leona Swiderski (33). The model’s fiancee Pragnesh Desai had allegedly hired three people, including Patel, for killing her on 8 February 2003. While Patel and Desai were acquitted by the Thane court, the other two accused are still absconding.

The case has been reopened at the behest of the US government after 19 years. The case will be tried afresh and Interpol played a vital role in the extradition of Vipul Patel from Prague, police officials said.

MBVV Commissioner Sadanand Date approached Interpol which helped the police in the extradition of Patel, who is in Prague.

On February 8, 2003, Desai and Swiderski arrived at the Mumbai Airport and as planned by Desai, the couple was kidnapped by the trio, which later murdered the model.

It was later revealed that Desai murdered Swiderski to avail benefits of the $1 million insurance policy she had taken, said PI Sanjay Hazare officer who is part of the investigating team.

Desai and Swiderski, an aspiring fashion model, were just weeks away from being married when they flew to Mumbai on February 8, 2003, said Hazare.

“Swiderski disappeared soon after landing at the Mumbai airport. Desai claimed that he filed a missing person report. The following day, 9 February 2003, we found Leona’s body by the side of the road at Kashimira off the Mumbai Ahmedabad national highway,” Hazare added.

As per the probe, Desai had paid a childhood friend Vipul Patel over $66,666 to kill Swiderski.

Altaf Gafoor Patel is the other accused in the murder of Swiderski, who was then 25-year-old. All accused are charged under sections 120 (B), 201, 302(murder) of the IPC for criminal conspiracy and tampering with the evidence.

Desai was acquitted by the Thane court a few years ago and presently lives in Vadodara. The case has been reopened at the behest of the US government after 19 years. The case will be tried afresh and Interpol played a vital role in the extradition of Vipul Patel from Prague, police officials said.

The police team will return from Prague on 27 May and the two accused Patel and Desai will be produced before the court said the official.

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