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Jaspal Atwal case: Date for trial to be set on June 7

Atwal was taken into custody in April by the Surrey unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and held overnight but released after making an appearance before a judge.

world Updated: May 26, 2018 21:22 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Anirudh Bhattacharyya
Hindustan Times, Toronto
Jaspal Atwal, right, listens to his lawyer Rishi T. Gill during a news conference in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday, March, 8, 2018.
Jaspal Atwal, right, listens to his lawyer Rishi T. Gill during a news conference in downtown Vancouver, British Columbia, Thursday, March, 8, 2018. (AP File Photo)

A date for the trial against Jaspal Atwal, the man at the centre of a controversy that crippled Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s visit to India in February, for allegedly making threats against a radio host, will be set on June 7, even as his lawyer asserted Atwal’s innocence.

Atwal was taken into custody in April by the Surrey unit of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and held overnight but released after making an appearance before a judge.

The charges against him relate to “one count of uttering threats to cause death or bodily harm.”

Atwal’s legal representative Marvin Stern told the Hindustan Times, “We don’t think the case has any substance at all and we will be fighting it in court.”

The person who filed the complaint against Atwal is believed to be a local radio host and the charges appear to be related to an altercation between him and Atwal last month, according to a source.

That person is also believed to have complained to the police about Atwal nearly eight months ago, prior to the ruckus created by Atwal’s presence at an official event in honour of Trudeau in Mumbai.

Atwal, who was convicted of an attempt to assassinate a visiting Minister from Punjab in the mid-1980s, was photographed at that event with the PM’s wife Sophie Gregoire Trudeau as well as cabinet ministers Navdeep Bains, Harjit Sajjan and Amarjeet Sohi.

He had also been invited to an official reception at the Canadian High Commissioner’s residence in New Delhi but that was rescinded after Canadian media reported on Atwal’s presence at the Mumbai do.

Subsequently, Canada’s then national security advisor Daniel Jean, who retired earlier this month, had briefed select members of the media on the matter giving rise to the theory that “rogue elements” in the Indian establishment had planted Atwal in India to sabotage Trudeau’s trip. That allegation continues to hamper ties between India and Canada.