Melbourne hit-run driver in Indian court

An Indian national convicted of a fatal hit-and-run in Melbourne kicked an Australian diplomatic car and failed to attend a medical assessment on a judge’s orders, a Delhi court has heard.

Judge Gurmohina Kaur is deciding whether Puneet Puneet should be extradited from India to Australia for sentencing on his conviction for running into and killing Queensland student Dean Hofstee, 19, on October 1, 2008.

Puneet, who was a 19-year-old learner driver at the time, also seriously injured 20-year-old Clancy Coker.

Puneet was on bail and awaiting sentence after pleading guilty to culpable driving when he used a friend’s passport to flee Australia in 2009.

Police arrested him four years later in India, on his wedding day.

On Tuesday the court was told that Puneet “kicked the car of Australian diplomats” after an earlier hearing, despite claiming to be physically and mentally infirm.

The Patiala District Court in Delhi heard that Puneet failed to attend a medical assessment on his mental state in relation to extradition, prompting Judge Kaur to admonish the defence, saying “we have wasted a month over this”.

“My orders are in black and white, they are not in requirement of interpretation. Why did he not show up?”

Prosecution lawyers asked why if Puneet was so unstable and physically weak was he seen kicking a car belonging to the Australian High Commission, with diplomatic plates, outside the court a month ago.

The defence denied the incident occurred.

Judge Kaur gave them until August 23 to submit the medical report to the court, and said the director of the Institute of Human Behavioural and Applied Sciences would have to explain to the court why Puneet was not assessed.

Bhaskar Vali, of the Union of India advocates, who handle extradition matters for the Indian state, accused the defence of “taking advantage of the court’s goodwill”.

Puneet was in court being propped up by relatives and spent the entire hearing looking at the floor with his right arm shaking.

The defence has previously argued that Puneet would face racism in Australia if extradited, was gravely ill, was mentally unfit to face trial, and that the case was of a “political character.”

The defence has also said Puneet suffered from kidney problems, schizophrenia, weight loss and at one point drank poison, due to his fragile state of mind.

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