By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, ROSEAU, Dominica, Thurs. June 3, 2021: The high court in Dominica is again set to today again hear a habeas corpus plea in the case of Indian fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi, who was last week arrested in Dominica.
Choksi’s lawyers presented their case before the court Wednesday to retrain his extradition to India from Dominica. But the Dominican government argued in court that Choksi – the fugitive diamond trader wanted over the ₹ 14,000 crore loan fraud at the Punjab National Bank – be deported to India.
Vijay Agarwal, the lawyer for Choksi, has insisted his client can only be legally deported to Antigua and Barbuda from Dominica.
Choksi was captured in Dominica last Tuesday night after being reported missing in Antigua & Barbuda Sunday. Indian authorities are seeking to have him extradited to face fraud charges there.
But Dominica’s Ministry of National Security and Home Affairs says it is in communication with the authorities of Antigua and Barbuda to ascertain some facts, including the status of Choksi’s Antiguan citizenship “and once the information is provided by the Antigua authorities, possible arrangements will be made for Mr. Mehul Choksi to be repatriated to Antigua.”
However, Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne said he has asked Dominica not to return him to Antigua. Reports in the international media have also indicated that India will use diplomatic channels to get Choksi back in his homeland to face the courts.
The news comes as Dominica News online quoted sources as saying that Choksi was indeed with a woman when he landed in Dominica but she was not his girlfriend.
The paper says the sources claim that she was a part of a team involved in his abduction, torture and arrest after meeting him during morning and evening walks in Antigua and befriending him.
The paper said the woman called him to an apartment to meet her on May 23rd, 2021 where a group of people abducted him and took him to Dominica where he was arrested.
He alleged through his lawyers that people with links to India were the ones who abducted him in collaboration with Antiguan officials.
According to Choksi’s lawyers, the Indian businessmen was then beaten up, tortured and taken to Dominica in a vessel where he was arrested.
Choksi is a patient at the Dominica China Friendship Hospital where he is being treated for an underlying condition and came to court in a wheelchair.
Prime Minister Browne has accused the Opposition in Antigua of supporting Choksi to secure campaign finances, a claim the UPP has denied.
All this comes as the United Workers Party Leader in Dominica, Lennox Linton, said the removal of Choksi from Antigua and Barbuda, to Dominica, was intended to facilitate his transfer to India without having to wait on the outcome of the on-going extradition.
Linton said in a statement Monday that Dominica has been conscripted to unlawfully violate the constitutional rights of an Antiguan citizen for crass political purposes.
Choksi is wanted by the Indian judicial authorities for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating and dishonesty including delivery of property, corruption, and money laundering in a ₹13,500 crore loan fraud in Punjab National Bank. He moved to Antigua and Barbuda where he has been staying since January 2018 after receiving citizenship under the Citizenship for Investment program there.
Choksi also has two cases against him in courts of Antigua and Barbuda – extradition and revocation of the citizenship he purchased.