Highlights

  • Hate crime in New Zealand
  • 3 Khalistan supporters found guilty
  • Men attacked Sikh radio host in 2020

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New Zealand: three Khalistani supporters sentenced for attempted murder of Sikh radio host

In a case of religious fanaticism, three Indian-origin men in New Zealand have been sentenced for the attempted murder of a popular Auckland-based Sikh radio host who was vocal against the ideology of Khalistan.

The attack occurred on December 23, 2020, when Harnek Singh was ambushed by a group of religious extremists in his driveway. He suffered over 40 stab wounds and required more than 350 stitches and multiple surgeries to recover, the Australia Today website reported.

Sukhpreet Singh, 44-year-old, was found guilty of being an accessory, and Sarvjeet Sidhu, 27-year-old, pleaded guilty to attempted murder.

The third man, a 48-year-old Auckland resident, has been given one of the longest possible prison sentences for the crime, the New Zealand Herald newspaper reported.

During a hearing on November 28, a judge noted that community protection and a strong message of deterrence were both necessary for the highly unusual case, it reported.

The third defendant, who continues to have interim name suppression, was not present when the attack occurred. The court was told that he harboured a years-long resentment against Harnek as he was vocal against Khalistan, Australia Today reported.

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

“It bears all the hallmarks of religious fanaticism,” Woolford said of the motivation for the attack. “Violence of this kind is committed to what is perceived as the furtherance of the greater good..." “Sentencing in this context requires a different approach. The emphasis must be placed on protecting the community from further violence and it is essential to send a strong message of deterrence to others.” A sentence of 13-and-a-half years was imposed, with a minimum period of imprisonment of nine years before he can begin applying for parole, the Herald reported.

The maximum sentence for attempted murder is 14 years. The only reason the defendant did not receive the full maximum sentence was that 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 judge said.

Harnek did not attend the hearing but wrote a victim impact statement that was read aloud by prosecutors.

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“My family faces fear each day when the sun goes down,” he said.

Addressing the defendants directly, he said: “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."


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