INDIAN police were aware that a suspected sex attacker was on a flight to Delhi but did not arrest him when he got off the plane, the Evening News can today reveal.
Lothian and Borders officers highlighted to the Indian authorities that the man suspected of a violent attack on a woman in Pilrig Park, Leith, was on a flight back to his home country, but they failed to detain him once it landed.
It is understood that the 25-year-old student is now hiding in India following the serious assault on July 22.
The 23-year-old woman was sexually assaulted and badly beaten at around 6am, and was left with serious facial injuries.
It is believed the suspect took a flight to Delhi that same day after asking his flatmates to take him to Edinburgh Airport.
Police are understood to have informed the Indian authorities he was on the eight-hour flight as it was mid-air.
Lothian and Borders Police are believed to have issued an international warrant the following day, but so far the man has not been arrested. If he is caught, he will be extradited back to Edinburgh.
A spokesman for the Crown Office said they could not comment on the circumstances as the warrant for the suspect’s arrest means the case is live.
The UK has a tortuous extradition process in place with India, but it is understood the Scottish authorities are hopeful the man will be sent back for questioning.
One insider told the News that, while the authorities were working with each other, Indian officials missed a key opportunity to arrest the suspect.
The source said: “It’s an easy country to hide in. Authorities knew he was on the plane, but they didn’t do anything about it.”
India is listed as a “part two territory” under the UK’s Extradition Act 2003.
Part one territories include EU member states who operate the European Arrest Warrant (EAW) system without state involvement.
Part two territories, which also includes the United States, require a more difficult series of tests and processes to be met. Prosecutors must collate the information in the case so that an extradition request can be made.
The victim had been out with friends in the city centre and left the HMV Picture House nightclub on Lothian Road at around 3am on Sunday to return home.
Two members of the public later found the injured woman, who is from Edinburgh, in a playground in Pilrig Park at around 6am and called for an ambulance. She is currently recovering from her injuries.
Extra uniformed police patrols were conducted in the park, and door-to-door inquiries were carried out in the area. An examination of the scene was conducted by forensic specialists and officers have been visiting businesses, community groups and churches in the hope of finding witnesses.
DI Cunningham, who is leading the investigation, said that the victim had suffered a “deeply traumatic” ordeal.
A Crown Office spokesman said: “A warrant has been issued for a 25-year-old male and as proceedings are active it would be inappropriate to comment further.”
The Indian consulate in Edinburgh and London could not be contacted for comment.