Hong Kong court rejects bail for fugitive wanted in India


Hong Kong (AFP)

A fugitive wanted by Indian police for crimes ranging from a jailbreak to financing terrorism was denied bail in Hong Kong Friday, where he is charged with a multi-million dollar robbery.

Ramanjit Singh, an Indian national who is on Interpol's global watch list, was detained this month by authorities in the southern Chinese city over the robbery.

He is accused of stealing more than 450 million Japanese yen (US $4 million) in cash from two people at an address in Tsim Sha Tsui, in the bustling heart of Hong Kong, on February 9.

Singh faces one charge of robbery, and appeared in magistrates' court Friday with co-defendant Enish Limbu.

Dozens of heavily-armed police surrounded Kowloon City court with traffic cordons set up and police dogs on the scene.

Those entering went through security checks including body screening, not usually seen in lower courts.

Singh, 29, arrived in a prison van escorted by around eight police motorbikes.

He was denied bail by a magistrate who described the robbery as a "very serious offence" and said he was at risk of re-offending.

Bearded and wearing a zip-up brown jacket, Singh remained calm and listened closely to proceedings via an interpreter.

Police in Punjab, the northern Indian state where Singh was born, told AFP earlier this week they wanted Singh brought home to stand trial and had sent an extradition request to Hong Kong through India's foreign ministry.

Also known as "Romi", Singh is accused by Indian authorities of masterminding a daring prison break in 2016 in which armed men disguised as policemen stormed a high-security jail in Punjab and freed a top Sikh militant commander and four others.

The list of charges against him on Interpol's website includes forgery, possession of arms, conspiracy to murder and "advising and facilitating terrorist activities".

Indian authorities told AFP previously that Singh was arrested in 2016 in possession of weapons and fraudulent ATM cards, but fled the country after being granted bail.

Local police in India told AFP previously he had lived in Punjab as a young boy but stayed in Hong Kong from around the age of nine.

The next hearing in the Hong Kong case will be in April.