Friday, March 01, 2024
Global News

Trio sentenced for plot to kill Indian-origin Sikh radio host in New Zealand

PUNJAB NEWS LINE | December 02, 2023 12:17 PM

Auckland: Three Sikh men have been sentenced in New Zealand for attempted murder of a popular Indian-origin radio host that left him with over 40 stab wounds, more than 350 stitches and multiple surgeries, a media report said.

Harnek Singh -- a DJ at Radio Virsa which discusses religious and cultural issues in the Auckland Sikh community -- was ambushed and stabbed in his Wattle Downs driveway on December 23, 2020, after a group of alleged attackers followed him home.

Sarvjeet Sidhu, 27, pleaded guilty to attempted murder and was sentenced to nine-and-a-half years’ imprisonment, the New Zealand Herald newspaper reported.

Sukhpreet Singh, 44, was found guilty of being an accessory to attempted murder and was sentenced to six months of home detention.

The 48-year-old lead defendant with interim name suppression was convicted of orchestrating the murder and has been given one of the longest possible prison sentences for the crime.

Described as a "devoutly religious Auckland resident", he was sentenced to 13-and-a-half years with a minimum period of imprisonment of nine years before he can begin applying for parole.

He harboured resentment against the radio host for his political views and more liberal interpretation of their mutual Sikh faith, Justice Mark Woolford noted while sentencing the trio this week.

He planned the “hit” and used his charismatic influence over others to recruit henchmen to do his bidding, the judge said.

The maximum sentence for attempted murder is 14 years in the country.

The only reason the lead defendant didn’t receive the full maximum sentence was because he deserved a six-month credit for the time he spent on electronically-monitored bail while awaiting his lengthy trial in September and October, the Herald reported, quoting the judge.

Harnek, who did not attend the hearing but wrote a victim impact statement, which was read out in the court by the prosecutors.

“My family faces fear each day when the sun goes down. My wife and child wonder if someone is lurking in the shadows, looking into our home, wanting to attack us again... We went from a carefree, spontaneous and fun-loving family to one that is constantly in fear for my safety,” he wrote.

Harnek was followed by three cars full of men and was stabbed “within an inch of his life” on the day of the incident. He locked the door of his vehicle and began pounding on the horn, attracting the attention of neighbours as the attackers bashed on his window.

The attack left Harnek requiring over 350 stitches to his head and upper body and multiple surgeries.

According to The Australia Today, Harnek was attacked for challenging pro-Khalistan ideology pedalled by the lead defendant.

Addressing the three defendants directly, he wrote: “You came to kill me. You tried to silence me. You wanted to send a chilling message to all those who express their disagreement with your unorthodox religious views. But you failed. I will continue to express my opinions and beliefs as I always have."

Sidhu, who was alleged to have been one of the knife attackers in the driveway, was described by defence lawyer as having been a victim of brainwashing by the lead defendant.

Sukhpreet had provided two of the stabbers with a shower and fresh clothes after the attack and helped unsuccessfully to hide their vehicle. The lengthy hearing came a year and a half after the sentencing of Jaspal Singh -- another of the knife-wielding attackers who was the first to admit his participation in the murder plot.

He later testified at the trial. In addition, Jobanpreet Singh and Hardeep Singh Sandhu await sentencing early next year for Harnek's attempted murder.

Jobanpreet was found guilty of wielding a knife in the attack, and Hardeep pleaded guilty to aiding and assisting the attackers by following Harnek as the radio host was on his way home.

Jagraj Singh and Gurbinder Singh were acquitted as there wasn’t enough evidence against them and two others.


Have something to say? Post your comment