US: Man calls a Sikh 'Osama'; indicted with hate crime charges

New York, PTI | Updated : 24 February 2015, 11:59 AM

A 55-year-old man in the US has been indicted by a US jury on hate crime charges for calling a Sikh man ‘Osama’ and then intentionally hitting him with his truck last year, severely injuring him.

Joseph Caleca of Long Island was indicted by a grand jury and was arraigned before Acting Queens County Supreme Court Justice Barry Kron on a nine-count indictment charging him with attempted murder as a hate crime, assault, criminal possession of a weapon and leaving the scene without reporting after hitting 29-year-old Sandeep Singh.

Caleca faces up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Queens District Attorney Richard Brown said Caleca is accused of an “unprovoked” attack that allegedly began with the defendant driving by Singh and his friends last July and calling him a terrorist and ordering him to leave the country.

After an exchange of words, Caleca allegedly struck Singh intentionally with his vehicle and dragged him along the street.

Caleca was initially arrested in August 2014 and was remanded on continuing bail. His next court date is in April.

Brown said that according to the criminal charges, Singh and three of his friends were standing on the road in a New York neighbourhood just after midnight in July last year when Caleca drove his pick-up truck up to the group and used derogatory language against them.

He called Singh “Osama” and that he should “go back to your country”.

It is additionally alleged that Caleca then parked his truck and got out to confront Singh and his friends.

After an exchange of words, according to the charges, Caleca returned to his vehicle and drove head-on into Singh, causing his body to be caught on the vehicle’s undercarriage.

Caleca allegedly dragged Singh along the street until his body dislodged from the vehicle, at which point Caleca fled the scene.

Singh was taken to a local Queens hospital where he received treatment for his injuries, which included surgery for internal bleeding and several staples to his mid-section.

The incident had caused outrage and concern among the Indian community, with strong calls for measures to tackle discrimination and hate crime. 

First Published: Tuesday, February 24, 2015 11:54 AM

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