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HomeIndiaNikhil Gupta produced in US court, pleads not guilty in ‘murder plot’

Nikhil Gupta produced in US court, pleads not guilty in ‘murder plot’

New York, June 17 : Indian national Nikhil Gupta, who has been accused of his involvement in an alleged plot to kill a Khalistani leader in the US, appeared in a federal court here on Monday and, through his lawyer, pleaded not guilty.

At the Federal court for Southern New York, Magistrate Judge James Kott ordered to keep him in custody pending a hearing scheduled for June 28. Gupta’s lawyer, Jeffrey Chabrowe, did not apply for bail. Outside the courtroom, Charbrowe said it is a “complicated matter” for India and the US and there should be no rush for a judgment.

He added that there would be information that would call into question the prosecution’s version. He also told the magistrate that Gupta had been unable to eat because he was a vegetarian, and a suitable diet was not available, and that he needed facilities to pray. The prosecution, which said that Gupta arrived in the US on Friday, has charged him with involvement in a plot to hire a person to kill a Khalistani leader, who was not named in the court documents.

The leader is reportedly Gurpatwant Singh Pannun, a lawyer with US and Canadian citizenships, who lives in New York and runs a campaign for the Khalistan movement. He is designated as a terrorist by the Indian government. After his extradition from the Czech Republic, Gupta was kept at a federal government facility in Brooklyn.

Gupta, 52, was arrested in the Czech Republic on June 30 last year after which the US had asked for his extradition. His extradition was held up by his appeal to the Czech Constitutional Court earlier this year against his extradition, which was rejected last month, clearing the way for him to be sent to the US. In a filing in the New York court in January, Gupta’s lawyer had said that according to his family’s media interviews, he “faces basic human rights violations while in custody in Prague” and was kept in “extended” solitary confinement without consular access.

He had asked the court in January to compel the prosecution to provide more details about the case to the defence to enable it to defend him. He said that according to Gupta’s Czech lawyer Petr Slepica, the defendant had been interviewed several times by “groups of senior US officials” while the lawyer has not been given any documents about the case except for indictment – the charging document. Federal Judge Victor Marrero dismissed the request saying that under the Rules of Criminal Procedure, the prosecution has 14 days after Gupta is produced in court to give the information to the defence.

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