Puneet Puneet was on bail in Victoria awaiting his sentencing over the 2008 death of 19-year-old pedestrian Dean Hofstee in Melbourne when he fled on a friend’s passport.
The Australian government has been pursuing him through the Indian justice system ever since.
But now Puneet’s family reportedly claims he’s gone missing ahead of another court hearing in the long-running extradition case.
Victorian Attorney-General Jill Hennessy said the state had made “urgent representations to the Commonwealth government to express our deep concern” and to try to verify Puneet’s whereabouts.
“We will continue to work closely with them and relevant authorities to ensure Mr Puneet is found and extradited back to Victoria as quickly as possible,” she said in a statement.
Puneet Puneet hit and killed a student while drunkenly speeding along Southbank.
He pleaded guilty to culpable driving but then fled Australia while on bail.
But the cowardly killer driver’s father says his son is the real victim.https://t.co/TcTCyBYQZ2
— Herald Sun (@theheraldsun) May 29, 2019
“Mr Puneet needs to return to Victoria to face the consequences of his actions, and we won’t rest until justice is served.”
Puneet was a 19-year-old a learner driver at the time of the drunken crash on City Road at Southbank.
Puneet was arrested by Indian police on his wedding day in 2013.
The case has already been through numerous delays in India, in part due to Puneet’s frequent absences and the legal tactics of his defence team.
The prosecution has accused Puneet’s lawyers of deliberately delaying the trial by either feigning his illness or making far-fetched claims about their client’s physical or mental health.
Puneet’s family has told police he is missing and reportedly said he had sold his car and disappeared with the cash.
AAP rang Puneet’s father on two numbers given by local police only to find both numbers switched off.
A Punjab lawyer who did not want to be named but who is familiar with extradition cases told AAP the latest twist in the Puneet case may only be a pause in the extradition proceedings.
“After all, all his father has done is file a missing person’s case with the police.
“He might turn up, he might have gone somewhere on his own in a disturbed state, he might return. It might be a deliberate delaying tactic,” the lawyer said.
“But the fact is that the police will surely trace him sooner or later.”
Owing to the COVID-19 pandemic the courts in India are closed and only hearing urgent matters online. No date has been set for Puneet’s next hearing.
By Benita Kolovos