U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions erroneously referred to Indian engineer Srinivas Kuchibhotla, who was killed in a hate crime incident in Kansas last year, as a Sikh, during a speech.
After getting an email from Indian news agency PTI on the wrong description of Kuchibhotla, the word “Sikh” was removed from Sessions’ speech and an updated speech was uploaded on website of U.S. Department of Justice, the agency reported.
Sessions made the wrong reference while addressing the Alliance Defending Freedom’s Summit on Religious Liberty on Aug. 8. A day before the address, U.S. navy veteran Adam Purinton was awarded three consecutive life sentences for murdering Kuchibhotla and injuring two others.
Purinton had opened fire at them at Austins Bar and Grill in Olathe on Feb. 22, 2017, killing Kuchibhotla and injuring Alok Madasani, also an Indian citizen, and American national Ian Grillot.
Mentioning the strict stance taken by the government on such crimes, Sessions said at the summit: “Yesterday, we obtained a life sentence for a man who murdered an Indian-American man, a Sikh as it turned out, because he thought he was a Muslim.
“This is the kind of horrible things we do not need to allow in this country.
The speech was later updated to say: “Yesterday, we obtained a life sentence for a man who murdered an Indian-American man because he thought he was Muslim.”
The error has been acknowledged as a remark at the end of the speech.
Purinton was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole after pleading guilty in May to three federal counts, including hate crime and firearm charges. All life terms will run consecutively.
“The crimes at issue in this case are detestable,” Sessions said in a statement on Aug.7.
“The defendant acted with clear premeditation in murdering one man, and attempting to murder a second man, simply because of their race, religion, and national origin. As a result, a promising young life has been tragically cut short, and other lives have been filled with suffering. Securing this sentence is important not only to the victims and their loved ones, but also to our justice system and our nation as a whole,” he added.
Purinton, a 52-year-old Olathe resident, admitted that Kuchibhotla and Madasani were solely targeted for their origin, and that he shot Grillot during an attempt to flee the scene of the crime.
The incident took place when Kuchibhotla, a 32-year-old engineer with GPS-maker Garmin, was at the bar with his co-worker Madasani for a drink after work. Purinton started verbally assaulting them, asking their nationality, and told them, “Go back to your country.”