Pannun murder plot: Accused Nikhil Gupta pleads not guilty in US court; lawyer says ‘complex matter’ | World News - Hindustan Times
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Pannun murder plot: Accused Nikhil Gupta pleads not guilty in US court; lawyer says ‘complex matter’

Jun 18, 2024 04:51 AM IST

The lawyer representing accused Nikhil Gupta said that the Pannun murder plot case is a complex matter for both India and US.

Indian national Nikhil Gupta, accused of hatching a plot to kill Khalistani separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, pled not guilty in a federal court in Manhattan on Monday over murder-for-hire conspiracy charges against him. He was accused of plotting to kill Pannun on the orders of the Indian government.

According to US federal prosecutors, Nikhil Gupta was on a mission to kill Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. (Reuters file photo)
According to US federal prosecutors, Nikhil Gupta was on a mission to kill Sikh separatist leader Gurpatwant Singh Pannun. (Reuters file photo)

Gupta's lawyer Jeffrey Chabrowe, while speaking to PTI ahead of Nikhil Gupta's arraignment in a federal court, said, “This is a complex matter for both our countries.” The lawyer further added, “It is extremely important that we refrain from rushing to conclusions so early in the process. Background and details will develop that may cast government allegations into an entirely new light.”

“We will pursue his defence vigorously and ensure he receives full due process, regardless of outside pressures,” he said. Gupta's attorney pointed the diplomatic relationship between India and the US could be tested after what comes out of the court findings.

Czech Justice Minister Pavel Blazek said in an X post that Nikhil Gupta was extradited to the US on Friday, June 14, in the Pannun murder plot case. He said, “On the basis of my decision on (June 3), Indian citizen Nikhil Gupta, who is suspected of conspiracy to commit murder-for-hire with intent to cause death, was extradited to the US on Friday (June 14) for criminal prosecution.”

The accused is currently lodged in the federal Metropolitan Detention Centre in Brooklyn, where he is listed as an inmate.

It was earlier alleged by US prosecutors that Nikhil Gupta had hatched a plot to murder Pannun in the country, and was working on the directions of the Indian government. New Delhi, however, denied its involvement in the case and said that a high-level investigation will be launched into the allegations.

The US earlier said that it was satisfied so far with India's moves to ensure accountability in the alleged plots, but added that many steps still needed to be taken.

Pannun is an India-designated terrorist who holds American and Canadian citizenship. Earlier in November, the US Justice Department unsealed an indictment against an Indian national for his alleged involvement in a foiled plot to assassinate a US-based leader of the Sikh Separatist Movement and a citizen in New York.

(With inputs from ANI, PTI)

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