Duo plead not guilty to murdering Indian in New Zealand

Wellington, June 19 (IANS) Two men accused of murdering an Indian-origin man in New Zealand in January have pleaded not guilty and are now headed for trial.

Bryne Pelmar, 20, and Shivneel Shahil Kumar, 18, have been charged with burning alive 21-year-old Shalvin Prasad Jan 30 in south Auckland.

The two appeared in the Auckland High Court Wednesday and pleaded not guilty to the charge, media reports said.

Both the accused have been remanded in police custody and the case will be heard by a jury in July next year.

Prasad was killed Jan 30 hours after he withdrew NZ$30,000 from a bank, according to a police report made public last month.

Both Kumar and Prasad had been exchanging text messages in the days leading to the incident about a debt Kumar had to repay to Prasad.

Prasad's father had got concerned after his son withdrew such a large amount of money and called the police, who then recovered the body from McRobbie Road in Kingseat in south Auckland.

According to the report, on the fateful day, after withdrawing the money from the bank and texting Kumar about it, Prasad got into his car and followed the latter from the car park outside.

Kumar and Prasad continued texting and talking to each other and later arranged to meet up after the victim's football practice and after Pelmar's work got over.

Prasad reportedly met Pelmar at the latter's workplace and got into his car.

"The events between 9.19 p.m. and 10.33 p.m. are unclear," the police report said.

At 10.33 p.m, Pelmar and Kumar went to a petrol station in Great South Road, Papakura, in the former's car, and bought petrol.

They then went to the scene of the crime and set Prasad afire, police said.

In the following days, Kumar spent NZ$3,800, deposited NZ$14,000 in a joint account he held with his father and a further NZ$4,100 into his own account.

Pelmar and Kumar will next appear in court Aug 7 to set a date for a pre-trial hearing.

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