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Crime in Hong Kong

Prosecutors drop HK$32.6 million robbery charge against Hong Kong man wanted by Interpol

Ramanjit Singh, 29, who is suspected of jailbreaking and funding terrorism in his native India, was originally accused of robbing two victims in Tsim Sha Tsui

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 1:57pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 26 June, 2018, 11:32pm

An Indian-born Hong Kong resident wanted by Interpol for his alleged links to terrorism, political killings and a prison break in his native country had his criminal charge over a multimillion-dollar robbery withdrawn on Tuesday, but was facing an impending extradition request.

Prosecutors told Kowloon City Court they would no longer pursue Ramanjit Singh, 29, who was originally alleged to have taken part in a heist involving more than 450 million Japanese yen (HK$32.6 million) in one of the city’s busiest districts.

Also known as “Romi”, Singh was one of five suspects accused of robbing two people in Tsim Sha Tsui on February 9 this year. He was charged with one count of robbery, but the case against him and his co-defendant, Enish Limbu, 26, was dropped on Tuesday.

A spokesman for Hong Kong’s Department of Justice said there was no prospect of a conviction.

Alleged jailbreaker and terrorism funder ‘Romi’ in custody over robbery

However, it said Singh was still a wanted man in India over a string of criminal offences, and disclosed that local police had carried out a “provisional arrest” of Singh on Monday, acting on a warrant from an Indian court.

Dora Si of the department spelled out in detail the allegations levelled against him. They included a role in breaking two criminals and two terrorists out of an Indian jail.

Principal magistrate Bernadette Woo Huey-fang adjourned the case until August 8 upon the justice department’s request, as the Indian government needed time to furnish a formal demand for Singh’s surrender.

Hong Kong’s fugitive offenders ordinance empowers local police to arrest suspects wanted by a foreign government, and allows 60 days, from the day of arrest, for a formal request.

But defence counsel Elizabeth Herbert indicated her client would contest the order, which was expected to be dealt with by Eastern Court.

Singh was first brought to court in February, when he was remanded in custody, soon before the Post reported that he was an alleged fugitive on an international wanted list for the allegations the Indian authorities had made against him.

He is accused of “conspiring in, abetting, advising and facilitating terrorist activities”, raising funds for terrorism, preparing an act of terror, and membership of a terrorist group, according to a notice issued by Interpol. He is also accused of attempted murder, robbery and breaking prisoners out of jail in the Indian city of Nabha in the state of Punjab.

On Tuesday, Si said Singh’s alleged offences in India included aiding and abetting others to escape jail custody and conspiring with others to assist escape from jail custody. He is also accused of possessing a firearm and funding potential terrorist activities.

His first brush with Indian law dates back to June 2016 when he was caught red handed with a revolver and nine cartridges in a stolen car at a checkpoint in Nabha.

After he was granted bail in August that year, Singh, a Hong Kong permanent resident, fled back to the city.

Authorities in India alleged he then provided logistical support for a jailbreak in November, in a plan cooked up with others while in the Nabha jail. About 16 people “attacked and forcefully broke into” the prison to free two suspected criminals and two terrorists, Si said.

Singh provided financial aid for the operation and weapons, according to Si. He also arranged residences and passports for them.

Singh lived in India until the age of nine before moving to Hong Kong, the Post has learned. He was working as a driver before his arrest, is single, but a father to two children.

His courtroom appearances sparked intense security measures after the allegations abroad surfaced, with a fleet of heavily armed police vehicles escorting him from jail custody every time he turned up in the dock.

On Tuesday Singh made no bail application and was remanded in custody.