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Mexico shooting: Indian-American charged with attempted murder

New York: An Indian-American, who was extradited from Mexico to the US for allegedly opening fire on an American diplomat, has been charged with attempted murder of “an internationally protected person”, officials have said.

Zia Zafar, 31, of Chino Hills, California, was identified as a naturalised American citizen from India by a spokesperson at the Jalisco state prosecutor’s office in Mexico.

He was charged by criminal complaint with one count of attempted murder of an internationally protected person, US Justice Department said in a statement.

Zafar made his initial appearance in federal court yesterday and is scheduled for a detention hearing on January 13 before US Magistrate Judge John F Anderson of the Eastern District of Virginia, it said.

He was deported from Mexico and arrested on Monday on a criminal complaint charging him with the attempted murder of a diplomat stationed at the US Consulate in Guadalajara, Mexico.

On January 6, Zafar disguised himself and followed the Vice Consul of the US Consulate in Guadalajara through a parking garage to his vehicle, the criminal complaint said.

After the diplomat got into his car and drove, Zafar allegedly shot him once in the chest and fled. He was taken to hospital, where he is recuperating, it said, adding that Zafar was subsequently detained by Mexican authorities.

Security footage recorded just prior to the shooting showed the victim validating his parking lot ticket while carrying a gym bag. Moments later, he is followed by a man wearing a nurse’s uniform.

The charges in the criminal complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation and Diplomatic Security Service are probing the case with Mexican authorities and the Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs, Drug Enforcement Administration and US Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations.

The Justice Department in the statement gratefully acknowledged Mexico for their extraordinary efforts, support and professionalism in responding to this incident.

The FBI had offered USD 20,000 reward for information leading to the identification of the shooter.

Hours after Zafar’s arrest, the attorney general’s office and the foreign ministry in a joint statement said he would face justice in the US for the “sordid and cowardly” shooting.