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Three accused of Sikh activist's murder face court in person, fourth attends by video

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A British Columbia judge has ordered four Indian nationals accused of murdering Sikh activist Hardeep Singh Nijjar to have no contact with several people in the community in the men's latest court appearance.

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

Those appearing in person wore red prison sweatsuits as they entered the courtroom, while Amandeep Singh remains in custody in Ontario where he was facing unrelated weapons offences before being arrested on May 10 for Nijjar's killing.

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

Attendees at the latest hearing for the men were searched before entering the courthouse, while a protest by supporters of Nijjar and the Sikh separatist movement he championed was taking place outside.

The four Indian nationals are all 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 was a key organizer for overseas voting on an independent Sikh state in India, and was gunned down in the parking lot of the Surrey temple where he was president in June 2023.

Sheriffs at the hearing placed peoples’ phones in plastic zipper bags and kept them outside the courtroom in plastic bins, with the judge warning observers that recording audio and taking pictures was prohibited.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 21, 2024.

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