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Man acquitted by NSW court after being extradited from S'pore

Man acquitted by NSW court after being extradited from S'pore

Source: Straits Times
Article Date: 21 Dec 2020
Author: K.C. Vijayan

This is a rare case of a fugitive being extradited and then acquitted in the state seeking extradition.

An Australian fugitive whose 2018 battle in a Singapore court against extradition was overruled has been acquitted of the criminal charges he faced in a Sydney court.

A New South Wales district court found Christopher Elkhouri not guilty of offences connected with rebirthing of motor vehicles and dealing with the proceeds of stolen goods, in a rare case of a fugitive being extradited and then acquitted in the state seeking extradition.

"I am not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt of Mr Elkhouri's guilt," said Acting District Court Judge M. Adams in finding him not guilty of the four charges, in updated decision grounds issued earlier this month.

The judge noted that the Crown's case involved Mr Elkhouri facilitating car rebirthing activity by receiving stolen motor vehicles, or tampering with unique identifiers to disguise or misrepresent the identity of a vehicle, among other things, at the Sydney premises over which he had control and management.

But the court was "not satisfied beyond reasonable doubt" that Mr Elkhouri was aware that any of the items shown had been interfered with or that he took part in any of the rebirthing activities uncovered by the police examination of items seized from the warehouse.

Mr Elkhouri, 47, a businessman, was arrested in Singapore in January 2018 and held in remand for some nine months before he was extradited.

A hearing was held in Singapore in 2018 after Australia sent an extradition request. Mr Elkhouri's lawyer Bachoo Mohan Singh argued he had not fled Australia in 2015, and police there had ample time to arrest and question him then.

District Judge Ong Luan Tze noted in her judgment grounds in July 2018 that "the conduct being alleged against the fugitive would, if committed in Singapore, constitute the offence of habitually dealing in stolen property under Section 413 of the Penal Code".

She made clear the court's role "in these proceedings is not to determine the guilt of the fugitive beyond a reasonable doubt, but simply to inquire whether a prima facie case has been made out against the fugitive by credible evidence".

She added that the task of resolving doubt as to the weight or quality of the evidence and assessing the evidence should be left to the trial court. The judge found him liable to be extradited to face 24 of the 25 charges listed in the application.

Mr Singh, who practises law in both Singapore and Australia, subsequently failed in a Perth-based Australian federal court to block Australian prosecutors from pursuing the extradition.

Source: Straits Times © Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Permission required for reproduction.

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