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4 men accused of killing Sikh activist appear in B.C. court

A judge in British Columbia has ordered four Indian nationals accused of murdering Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar to have no contact with several people in the community, in their first joint appearance in court Tuesday morning.

Three of the four suspects — Karan Brar, Kamalpreet Singh and Karanpreet Singh — appeared in person for the first time in provincial court in Surrey, B.C., with the fourth suspect appearing by video link.

Amandeep Singh remains in custody in Ontario where he was facing unrelated weapons offences before being arrested on May 10 for Nijjar’s killing.

The three appearing in person wore red prison sweatsuits as they entered the courtroom.

Judge Mark Jetté spoke to the men through an interpreter as he placed them under a no-contact order, before adjourning until the suspects’ next appearance on June 25.

The four Indian nationals are each accused of murder and conspiracy over the killing last year that threw Canada’s relations with India into disarray.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has said credible intelligence linked Nijjar’s death to Indian government involvement, but India has denied being involved in the case.

Nijjar, president of the Guru Nanak Sikh Gurdwara in Surrey and a key organizer for overseas voting on an independent Sikh state in India, was shot dead in the parking lot of the gurdwara in June 2023.

Attendees at the latest hearing for the accused were searched before entering the courthouse, with sheriffs placing people’s phones in plastic zipper bags and keeping them outside the courtroom in plastic bins. 

The judge warned observers that recording audio and taking pictures was prohibited.

A protest outside a court house with pictures of two men on puppets with handcuffs and prison suits with signs that say 'I killed Nijjar.'
Members of the Sikh community and Sikhs for Justice demonstrated outside the courthouse on Tuesday, calling for charges against Indian officials, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who they allege ordered Nijjar’s killing. (Nick Allan/CBC News)

Meanwhile, a protest by supporters of Nijjar and the Sikh separatist movement he championed took place outside the courthouse.

Demonstrators read out a statement on behalf of pro-independence organization Sikhs for Justice (SFJ), calling the four accused “foot soldiers” and pressing for charges against Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Indian intelligence and diplomatic officials they allege ordered the killing.

“The assassination of a Canadian citizen on Canadian soil carried out at the behest of consular officials is a challenge to Canadian sovereignty,” said the statement.

SFJ says it will hold a mock trial of Modi outside the Indian consulate in Vancouver on June 18 to mark one year since Nijjar was killed.

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