BRISBANE, Australia (AP) — Australian police in the northeast city of Cairns charged Indian national Rajwinder Singh with murder Thursday, two years after Australia first applied for his extradition from India.
Singh, 38, has denied killing Toyah Cordingley, 24, as she walked her dog along Wangetti Beach north of Cairns in October 2018.
He arrived Wednesday under police escort from New Delhi to Melbourne, Australia. Magistrate Martin Grinberg, having heard police had DNA and telephone evidence that linked Singh to the murder, ordered his extradition from Victoria state to Queensland, where Cordingley died. Singh flew in a chartered jet 3,000 kilometers (1,900 miles) north to Cairns on Thursday.
“We are very relieved to be at this point, and we will now start the judicial process,” Queensland Police Detective Inspector Sonia Smith said Thursday.
Singh was charged with one count of murder and would appear in the Cairns Magistrates Court on Friday, a police statement said.
Singh had returned to India from Sydney a day after Cordingley’s body was found and two days after her murder, leaving behind his wife and three children at their home south of Cairns in Innisfail, where he worked as a nurse.
“I am so relieved to have this person back here in Queensland," Cordingley’s mother, Vanessa Gardiner, said in a statement. “We thank the community for the ongoing love and support throughout these difficult times."
A New Delhi court approved Singh’s extradition in late January after he surrendered his appeal rights, which could have tied up the legal process for years.
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 1 million Australian dollar ($677,000) reward.
Smith would not comment on whether the reward had been collected, saying it was a confidential process.
Australia had applied to India for Singh’s extradition in March 2021, but he could not be found. Police suspect he spent most of his time since he left Australia in his home state of Punjab.