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Indian envoy's murder: Suspect arrested in US

By T V Parasuram in Washington
Last updated on: March 06, 2004 23:30 IST
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Mohammed Aslam, who allegedly abducted and murdered Ravindra Mhatre in England in 1984, has been arrested in the United States, immigration officials said on Saturday.

The Kashmir Liberation Front claimed to have abducted Mhatre and demanded a one million pound ransom and the release of several Kashmiri prisoners by the Indian government.

Mhatre's body was found at a farm three days after his abduction. He had been shot in the head and chest. Two men were sentenced to prison in February 1985 for Mhatre's murder.

The 48-year-old Aslam, a Briton, was first arrested and held in Pennsylvania on immigration charges but was later identified as the man wanted in the shooting of the Indian envoy in Birmingham, said Mike Gilhooly, a spokesman for the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

Aslam was born in Kashmir and became a British citizen as a boy. According to court records, he moved to England in 1970 and returned to Kashmir in 1985. He then moved to Pennsylvania, US where he married a woman from Pottsville in 2001 and managed an apartment complex.

Following a July meeting in Philadelphia with immigration authorities, Aslam was arrested for overstaying his 90-day visa. He has been held in a county prison in Pennsylvania since July on the immigration charge.

"We learned about the arrest in the summer of 2003 as we were making arrangements for deportation with authorities from the United Kingdom," Gilhooly said.

Aslam was on the verge of being deported to Britain for overstaying his visa when US authorities discovered that his fingerprints matched those of a man wanted in Britain for Mhatre's abduction and murder.

Gunnar L Armstrong, a lawyer for Aslam in the immigration case, said he was unaware of the murder charge until being contacted by a reporter.

Gilhooly said Aslam would remain behind bars in Pennsylvania until a decision is made about what to do with him. It is unclear, according to sources close to the case, whether he would be extradited to England.

Assistant US Attorney Daryl F Bloom is handling Aslam's deportation case.

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T V Parasuram in Washington
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