Mother of Indian hit-and-run driver in Australia defends son

Mother of Indian hit-and-run driver in Australia defends son
Indian national Puneet Puneet is brought to the district court in Rajpura, India's Punjab state, on December 12, 2013.

NEW DELHI - The mother of an Indian who fled Australia after killing a teenager in a traffic accident five years ago defended her son on Thursday, saying "accidents happen all the time".

She was speaking to AFP outside a court in New Delhi where her son Puneet Puneet, 24, made a brief appearance as authorities seek his extradition back to Australia to face charges over the hit-and-run incident.

"What can I do now? I can stand here and cry but is this going to help? My son would be pained to see me break down like this, so I would rather hold back my tears," said Puneet's mother, who did not want to be named.

"My son is saying that 'yes an accident happened'. But it was an accident and accidents happen all the time," she said.

"I have faith in God and the judiciary.

"So many Indians were killed in Australia probably in cold-blooded ways. What about those?" she added.

A string of attacks on Indian students in Australia in 2011 outraged public opinion in India and led to accusations of racism against migrants, sparking a diplomatic row between the two countries.

Puneet is expected back in court on Friday, after earlier being driven in police custody from Rajpura in the northern state of Punjab to Delhi for the extradition process.

His family has told Australian media that he will not contest the extradition back to Melbourne.

Puneet was a 19-year-old learner driver when he hit two students, aged 19 and 20, as they walked across a Melbourne road in 2008. One of the students died at the scene.

Australian police estimated Puneet was driving at 148 kilometres (92 miles) an hour - more than double the legal limit in the area. He also tested positive for alcohol.

He was charged with culpable driving and negligently causing serious injury, then bailed on strict conditions including the surrender of his passport. But he later fled using a fellow Indian's passport.

Australian police offered a reward in 2012 for information leading to his arrest.


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