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BREAKING AUSTRALIA: The main suspect in the alleged murder of Cairns woman Toyah Cordingley, has been arrested in India

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#AceBreakingNews – Rajwinder Singh arrested about the alleged murder of Cairns woman Toyah Cordingley

Play Video. Duration: 15 seconds
Police officers in India arrest Rajwinder Singh

The 24-year-old was walking alone with her dog at Wangetti Beach, north of Cairns, when she was killed in October 2018.

Earlier this month, the Queensland government posted a $1 million reward โ€” the largest in the state’s history for a homicide investigation โ€” for information leading to the location and arrest of former Innisfail nurse Rajwinder Singh.

The 38-year-old person of interest flew to India in the days after Ms Cordingley’s death and Police Commissioner Katarina Carroll said he was arrested in New Delhi “just hours ago”, after hiding out in India’s Punjab region.

Commissioner Carroll said the man would appear in court soon and the process of extradition to Australia would then commence.

She said it was “very early days” but she was “very confident we have a strong case to put before the courts” and described it as “one of the most intense, [and] comprehensive across the world investigations”.

Rajwinder Singh with hands behind him after arrest over alleged murder ofย Toyah Cordingley
Rajwinder Singh is set to be the subject to an extradition request.(Supplied: Delhi Police)none

She said it was too soon to say whether the $1 million reward would be paid out.

“The process will be followed in relation to the million dollars, if [the information] has led to this persons arrest, I will happily write out that cheque myself,” the commissioner said.

Case a ‘high priority’ for Australian government

Police Minister Mark Ryan said Queensland police will work with Australian and Indian governments on extradition proceedings.

“The general process around extradition with countries like India is you need a brief of evidence approved by the federal government, the Attorney-General’s Department, that then goes over to be approved by the Indian government,” he said.

Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the matter “is a high priority” for the Australian government.

“Australian agencies continue to work closely with Indian authorities to pursue Mr Singh’s extradition to Australia, to enable him to face justice,” he said.A $1 million reward was issued as part of the investigation into Toyah Cordingley’s death.(Facebook: Toyah Cordingley)none

The case has had a profound impact on the Far North community. Billboards, shop windows and car bumpers continue to bear her name, urging those with information to contact police.

Ms Cordingley’s body was discovered by her father Troy Cordingley on picturesque Wangetti Beach, located between tourist hotspots Cairns and Port Douglas, after hours of searching.

When the reward was announced earlier this month, he said her killer was living without consequences.

“At the very minimum, this person must be removed from society and held accountable for their crime,” he said.

Queensland police working with Indian authorities

CCTV images were released of person of interest Rajwinder Singh before he left Australia.(Supplied: Queensland Police Service)none

In recent weeks Detective Inspector Kevin Goan recently returned from New Delhi where he had been working with Indian officials, including the Ministry for External Affairs, Home Affairs and the head of the Central Bureau of Investigations.

Five Queensland police officers who speak Hindi and Punjabi have been receiving information via WhatsApp.

Earlier this month, Detective Inspector Goan told the ABC he was “confident” the reward would lead to a breakthrough in the case.

“It would be a comparable wealth of about $25 million in India and when you look at that value, it’s life-changing,” he said.

“That is generational wealth for a family in India, an opportunity to change your lot in life, of your family and that of your children.

“It’s a great incentive for people, particularly in his home village in the Punjab region, to come forward and tell us what they know about his current location.”

The case could take ‘years’ if extradition contested

ANU professor of international law Donald Rothwell said Australia now needs to formally issue an international arrest warrant requesting extradition of Mr Singh to appear in an Australian court.

He said the formal request will then be considered by Indian authorities as to whether its consistent with extradition arrangements between India and Australia.Rajwinder Singh was arrested by Delhi police officers.(Supplied: Delhi Police)none

“It then becomes a question of whether or not Mr Singh is able to seize on any irregularities in terms of the extradition request,” he said.

“The next step will be to see whether the accused โ€ฆ will consent to extradition and effectively voluntarily agree to return to Queensland.

“In which case Mr Singh could be before the Queensland courts within a few months, if not weeks.

“If he contests extradition, the matter then goes before the Indian courts and it’s then very difficult to predict the outcome.”

If that occurs, Professor Rothwell said it could take years for the matter to be resolved.

He pointed to the case of Indian student Puneet Puneet, who contested his extradition in an alleged hit-and-run case that “dragged on for over 10 years”.

Professor Rothwell said it was possible Mr Singh may argue he will not get access to a fair trial or that the process will be biased in favour of a conviction, as was argued in the Puneet case.

He said a common factor in contesting an extradition request is if there is “an impression that there won’t be a fair trial or that the process will be biased in favour of a conviction”, as was also argued in the Puneet extradition case.

He therefore cautioned politicians and police officers to be “very, very cautious” in their commentary around the case.

ABC NEWS

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