Australian authorities on Thursday arrested a couple in connection with the killing of an Indian, whose partially burnt body was found dumped by the side of a road in the New South Wales Riverina in December last year.

A 23-year-old man and his 20-year-old wife, who have not been identified, were arrested at two addresses in Sans Souci in Sydney’s south just after 11 a.m on Thursday, police said.

Victim Ranjodh Singh’s body was found beside Wilga Road, Willbriggie, near Griffith, on December 29. 25-year-old Singh was last seen on the streets of Griffith three nights before his body was found.

He had recently moved to Wagga but was staying in Griffith to pick pumpkins and was living in a shared house with other farm workers from India.

The media reports here said it is understood that the late Singh joined a group of friends for pizza at Eagle Boys on the last night he was seen.

One of his friends had been around town longer than Singh — who arrived in Australia a little more than a year ago — and had set himself up as a contractor. He befriended Singh and employed him. The group finished their pizza and went to a party at a nearby flat.

They drank grappa and celebrated the birthday of one of the men, but there was tension in the air and some time before midnight a fight broke out, though it is not known who was involved.

Police have not revealed the cause of his death.

Singh's aunt Sarita said her nephew was a gentle, friendly man. He left behind a wife, Kanchan, who was studying cookery in Melbourne.

Detectives allege the arrested couple knew Singh well and worked with him on farms in the region.

Assistant Commissioner Mark Murdoch said a racial motive for the killing has been ruled out.

“We will allege that the persons taken into custody this morning and the victim Singh were well known to each other,” he said, adding “We will allege that while Singh was a resident of Wagga, he and the people taken into custody worked there as seasonal workers, picking fruit.”

Police said they expect to charge the couple with murder and indicated that another arrest was possible.

They want to speak to the driver of a red Ford Falcon, which was seen at a car wash in Griffith at 3 a.m. on December.

The couple will be charged with murdering Singh. One more person is expected to be charged in the case.

“We believe there was a common purpose to kill Singh. The third person expected to be charged was also working in Griffith area. The couple arrested were interviewed at Kogarah police station,” Assistant Commissioner of Police Mark Murdoch was quoted as saying in the local media.

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