Czech justice minister to decide on Nikhil Gupta’s extradition to US after court ruling | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Czech justice minister to decide on Nikhil Gupta’s extradition to US after court ruling

ByRezaul H Lashar
May 23, 2024 07:17 PM IST

The top Czech court has rejected Nikhil Gupta’s appeal against court rulings allowing his extradition to the US as “prima facie unfounded”

NEW DELHI: Czech Republic justice minister Pavel Blažek will take a call on the extradition to the US of Nikhil Gupta, accused of involvement in the plot to kill Khalistani leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun on American soil, following the rejection of his petition by the Central European country’s highest court.

 (Photo: ceska-justice.cz)
(Photo: ceska-justice.cz)

The Czech constitutional court on Wednesday rejected Gupta’s challenge against rulings by the Municipal Court and High Court in Prague that allowed his extradition to the US.

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Gupta is “being prosecuted in the US for the crime of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire and aiding and abetting that crime” and the constitutional court has “confirmed the decision of the general courts on the admissibility of extradition”, the top Czech court said in a statement.

“The case will be now referred to the minister of justice, [who] shall decide whether or not to grant Mr Gupta’s extradition to the US,” Vladimír Řepka, the spokesperson of the Czech justice ministry said on Thursday.

The constitutional court rejected Gupta’s challenge as “prima facie unfounded”.

Gupta was named in an indictment filed by US prosecutors in a federal court in Manhattan last November as the person who allegedly worked with an unnamed Indian government employee to plot the assassination of Pannun. Czech authorities arrested and detained Gupta on June 30 last year, and Indian officials have been given consular access to him on several occasions.

The US indictment alleged the Indian government employee, who was a field operative responsible for intelligence, ordered the assassination of Sikhs for Justice (SFJ) leader Pannun in New York. SFJ has been outlawed by India and Pannun has been declared a terrorist under India’s anti-terror law.

The indictment further alleged that Gupta, acting on the instructions of the Indian official, contacted a person whom he believed to be a criminal associate, but was a confidential source working with US law enforcement, for help in hiring a hitman to murder Pannun. The source introduced Gupta to a purported hitman, who was actually an undercover US law enforcement officer.

The Municipal Court in Prague approved Gupta’s extradition to the US in November 2023, and this was followed by a similar ruling by the High Court in Prague in January 2024, which said the extradition would be “logical, factually correct and in accordance with the law and international treaty”.

In his challenge to these decisions, Gupta contended that the lower courts had “not sufficiently assessed” the “political nature of the act he was accused of”. However, the constitutional court said the lower courts had “very thoroughly dealt” with extradition documents supplied by American authorities and, in response to objections by Gupta, also requested additional information.

The top court also didn’t agree with Gupta’s argument that he “was hired by an Indian government agent who is in charge of security matters and is therefore likely to be on a mission assigned by the Indian government”, the statement said.

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