Sikh leader found guilty of electoral fraud in New Zealand

MELBOURNE (TIP): A Sikh leader and six of his accomplices were on Thursday found guilty by a New Zealand court of forging election documents in a bid to win a local body poll in 2010. Daljit Singh, a member of the Labour Party, was found guilty by the Auckland high court on two charges of dealing with forged documents. Daljit produced papers which showed voters from remote areas actually live in the area of Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board in Auckland. Daljit, who was a candidate in the first Auckland “super-city” election in 2010, was found not guilty of 18 other counts of the same charge, the New Zealand Herald reported. The charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 10 years.

Six others were also charged with the same offence – Gurinder Atwal, Davinder Singh, Mandeep Singh, Virender Singh, Paramjit Singh and Malkeet Singh. All were found guilty of at least one count each, while another accused Davinder Singh was found not guilty. Atwal, Singh’s “right-hand man”, was found guilty of 13 counts of dealing with the forged electoral documents. Prosecutor Robin McCoubrey said that at the time the Electoral Enrolment Centre (EEC) made it “rather easy” for people to go online and change their electoral address. Daljit and Atwal used the names of Sikhs to go on to the EEC’s website, he said.

Once there they would change the address, to the local board area where Daljit was standing, and then download a declaration form which they signed and submitted. “The vast majority of those whose addresses were changed were unaware it was happening,” McCoubrey said. EEC staff became suspicious when they saw unusual patterns in address changes and eventually nailed Daljit and his accomplices. All court proceedings were translated by Punjabi interpreters in a marathon trial that lasted two months.

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