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Indian man appears in Australian court charged with murder



CAIRNS, Australia – An Indian national who was extradited from his native country this week appeared in an Australian court on Friday in connection with the murder of a woman whose body was found on an Australian beach more than four years ago.

Rajwinder Singh, 38, was walked out of a police cell via video link at Cairns Magistrates’ Court in Queensland to face a single count of murder.

Singh did not enter a plea. But he has previously denied in media interviews killing Toyah Cordingley, 24, as she walked her dog on Wanghetti Beach, 40 kilometers (25 miles) north of Cairns, in October 2018.

Prosecutors told Magistrate Cathy McLennan they would provide the defense with a dossier of evidence by April 14.

Singh only spoke when McLennan asked if he could hear the court proceedings. He replied, “Yes, ma’am.”

Singh was excused from appearing when the prosecution is scheduled for a preliminary hearing on April 28. He did not ask to be released on bail.

He faces a life sentence if convicted of murder.

Defense attorney Derek Perkins told reporters outside court that his client was “innocent until proven guilty”.

Singh flew to Cairns from New Delhi via the Australian city of Melbourne with police escorts in recent days after an Indian court approved his extradition in late January.

Singh had returned to India from Sydney a day after Cordingley’s body was found and two days after his murder, leaving behind his wife and three children at their home south of Cairns in Innisfail, where he worked as a nurse.

He was arrested in November 2022 on the outskirts of the Indian capital. His arrest came three weeks after Queensland police targeted him with a one million Australian dollar ($677,000) reward.

Police would not say if the reward was collected, saying it was a confidential process.

Australia had asked India for Singh’s extradition in March 2021, but he was nowhere to be found. Police suspect he has spent most of his time since leaving Australia in his home state of Punjab.

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