A 34-year-old Indian man, likely to be extradited to the United Kingdom in the first week of October for allegedly committing rape and murder there 10 years ago, said through his lawyer on Sunday that he was being made a scapegoat since he hailed form a poor family.
Aman Vyas, who is currently in judicial custody in New Delhi, is likely to face trial in London over the murder of Michelle Samaraweera, a 35-year-old woman who was found dead at a children's playground in east London's Walthamstow in 2009. According to media reports, she was sexually assaulted before being killed.
Speaking to news agency Press Trust of India, Aman Vyas's lawyer Amrit Singh claimed that there was no "competent evidence implicating the accused in any crime".
"The media wrongly reported that Vyas was the son of a wealthy businessman in India. He is the son of a very poor retired private school teacher and his mother is a housewife. His parents live in a modest house in Uttar Pradesh's Meerut and due to his poverty, he became a scapegoat as India wanted to bring back Vijay Mallya. Indian officials have negligently dealt with this case," he said.
Aman Vyas was living in the UK on a student visa at the time and is also wanted for questioning over three other alleged sexual attacks, which also took place in east London before Michelle Samaraweera's killing.
On July 16, 2010, Aman Vyas received a Police Clearance Certificate issued by the London Police, which he wanted for getting a visitor's visa for himself for New Zealand, Mr Singh said.
The certificate said "he was not implicated in any case, and accordingly, it attested that there was no negative report against him", the lawyer added.
According to the London Police, only one individual was responsible for this serial crime of rape and one case of murder, but their own forensic scientist had a different opinion, Mr Singh said.
He added that the London court, which had issued an arrest warrant against Aman Vyas on May 5, 2011, was not a competent court in this case and that the order was passed without a DNA match or equivalently reliable alternative evidence, and without any proper investigation to support the move to arrest.
"The Government of India was aware that the warrant against Vyas was not from a competent court within the UK and to conceal this irregularity, they omitted to submit a copy of the warrant issued by the Barking Magistrate Court, London, and opted instead to submit false arguments in a Delhi court," Mr Singh said.
The Delhi court ordered Aman Vyas's extradition to the UK on December 18 last year, after which he was taken into custody.
Mr Singh said his client would soon approach the Supreme Court against the order to extradite him to the UK.
Aman Vyas left the UK to live with his relatives in India after a warrant was issued for his arrest by Scotland Yard, the media had reported.
He was arrested at the Delhi airport in 2011 while trying to board a plane to Thailand and was released on bail, the police said in New Delhi.
"I am delighted that my sister will finally get a trial after all these years," Michelle Samaraweera's sister Ann Chandradasa told a newspaper in London.
Last year, Stella Creasy, the Labour MP of Walthamstow, had, on behalf of the victim's family, urged the then British prime minister Theresa May to raise the case with Prime Minister Narendra Modi during his visit to the UK in April 2018 in an attempt to speed up Aman Vyas's extradition.