Man accused of killing Toyah Cordingley faces court in India

Police ambush Rajwinder Singh after four-year manhunt

The Indian public prosecutor handling the case of a man accused of killing 24-year-old Australian Toyah Cordingley on a Queensland beach in 2018 says authorities will pursue extradition proceedings against him with “maximum speed”.

Delhi police arrested Rajwinder Singh, an Australian citizen of Indian origin, on the national capital’s outskirts last Friday after the Queensland government announced earlier this month a record $1 million reward for his capture.

Singh, who was remanded in judicial custody for five days, was due to appear in a Delhi magistrate’s court on Wednesday for a hearing on Australia’s bid to extradite him to stand trial for Cordingley’s murder.

“It’s a heinous offence,” Ajay Digpaul, the government’s prosecuting counsel, said.

“We will seek to ensure this case proceeds with maximum speed,” he said.

Australian police suspect Mr Singh stabbed Ms Cordingley to death on Wangetti Beach, north of Cairns, as she took a morning walk with her dog.

Mr Singh boarded a flight to India, leaving his wife and three children, a day after Ms Cordingley was reported missing.

Ms Cordingley’s father found the body of his daughter, who worked in a pharmacy, half-buried in the sand.

The dog was tied up unharmed to a tree.

Local Indian media report Mr Singh allegedly told Delhi police he got into an argument with Ms Cordingley because her dog barked at him.

The prosecution is “very focused on this case”, Mr Digpaul said.

But Mr Singh “will have the right to appeal,” he added.

Toyah Cordingley

Toyah Cordingley went missing after taking a dog for a walk on Wangetti beach near Cairns.

Legal experts have raised concerns that Mr Singh’s extradition process could drag on for years as India’s justice system is notoriously slow-moving with millions of pending cases.

Australia asked for Mr Singh’s extradition to stand trial for murder in March 2021.

But Mr Singh, who was clean-shaven when in Australia, grew a beard and donned a turban in India to disguise himself and constantly shifted locations to evade arrest.

After announcing the reward along with a WhatsApp contact number, Australian police said they got a number of tips from India on Mr Singh’s whereabouts.

Delhi police said they arrested Mr Singh using information from local investigators, Australian police and Interpol.

Mr Digpaul said “all the case documents and the extradition request have been filed with the court” and the accused’s lawyers also now have the documents.

India approved Australia’s extradition request last month.

The prosecutor said Mr Singh will hear the allegations that he “carried out an offence of murder” in Australia and could take “some days”.

Mr Singh’s counsel “will have the right to cross-examine”, Mr Digpaul added.

Mr Singh – who is being held in Tihar Jail, South Asia’s biggest prison – will have the right to appeal to the Delhi High Court if the magistrate rules against him.

“We will make all efforts to ensure that the matter is concluded as quickly as possible,” Mr Digpaul said.

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