CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — Australian police offered an A$1 million ($633,000) reward Thursday for information on the whereabouts of an Indian national suspected of murdering a woman on a tropical beach four years ago before returning home.
Queensland police officers, who speak Hindi and Punjabi, are waiting at an office in Cairns to find Rajwinder Singh, 38, from India via WhatsApp or online, Detective Superintendent Sonia Smith said.
Singh was a nurse working in Innisfail, south of Cairns, when the body of 24-year-old Toyah Cordingley was found on Wangetti Beach on Monday, October. 22, 2018.
He had gone to the beach north of Cairns the day before to walk his dog.
Police said Singh flew from Cairns to Sydney the day Cordingley’s body was found and left for India the next day.
The award is the largest in Queensland history and is unique in that it does not seek a tip that solves a crime and leads to a successful prosecution. Instead, money is only offered for information leading to the location and arrest of a suspect.
Police Minister Mark Ryan confirmed the reward and said he was confident people knew where Singh could be found.
“We know that people know this person, they know where this person is, and we’re asking those people to do the right thing,” Ryan said.
“Now, a billion eyes around the world have a million reasons to help us get justice for Toyah,” he said.
Deputy Police Commissioner Tracy Lindford said detectives believed Singh was staying in India. He appealed to witnesses among India’s 1.4 billion people to “give some respite to the family who miss the wedding.”
Three Queensland detectives were already in India working with Indian authorities on the investigation, Smith said.
The victim’s parents, Troy Cordingley and Vanessa Gardiner, released a video statement asking for the public’s help in finding her killer.
“I can’t believe it’s a million dollars, but Toyah deserves it. He deserves everything,” Gardiner said.
The father said bringing the killer to justice was the least he deserved.
“At the very least, this person should be removed from society and answer for the crime he committed,” said the father.
Australia appealed to India for Singh’s extradition in March last year, but he could not be found.
Australia’s attorney general’s office did not immediately respond to a question on Thursday about how many people have been extradited between the two countries since the bilateral treaty came into force in 2010.
Australia has been pursuing the extradition of Indian national Puneet Puneet, 33, who was driving drunk and speeding in 2008 when he hit and killed a pedestrian and injured another in downtown Melbourne for 13 years.
Puneet pleaded guilty to driving offenses in 2009, then fled to India months later using an Indian friend’s passport before being convicted. Puneet was arrested four years later on his wedding day, but continued to fight extradition proceedings.
In 2014, Australia extradited Indian citizen Jaskaran Singh Kalsi to India on charges of murder. Kalsi had flown to Australia on a student visa in 2012, a day after a Burundian student was fatally injured in a brawl in Jalandhar, northern Punjab state.
In 2005, before an extradition treaty existed, Australia extradited Australian citizen Werner Wolf Ingo to India on charges of being part of an international pedophile ring targeting children in the resort state of Goa.
Ingo was sentenced to 10 years in prison in 2007.
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