Three men charged in connection with the fatal stabbing of an Indian dairy worker in New Zealand have pleaded not guilty to the crime, and will go to trial in 2024, media reports said.
Janak Patel, 34, was stabbed multiple times last month at the Rose Cottage Superette in Sandringham, Auckland, where he worked. He succumbed to his injuries in the hospital, leading police to launch a 48-hour manhunt resulting in the arrest of three men who were charged with murder and aggravated robbery.
Appearing together for the first time in the High Court at Auckland on Wednesday, the three entered not guilty pleas through their lawyers, stuff.co.nz reported.
Justice Sally Fitzgerald set a trial date down for five weeks in May 2024.
Of the three, a 34-year-old man has been charged with Patel’s murder, as well as aggravated robbery.
His lawyer sought interim name suppression, according to the report.
The other two — Henry Fred and Shane Henry Tane — have been accused of robbery.
Nationwide protests were held across New Zealand after Patel’s killing with people turning up in huge numbers shouting ‘enough is enough’ in front of Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s electoral office in Auckland’s Mt Albert, IANS had reported.
Most of the dairy owners and workers said they fear going to work after Patel’s brutal killing.
Following Patel’s death, New Zealand announced new measures to counter retail crime, which included providing a NZ$4,000 subsidy to shop owners to install fog cannons in their shops to stop burglaries.