Mehul Choksi extradition: Dominica court adjourns hearing; Antigua Minister says ‘not authorised to disclose intelligence information’

New Delhi: Dominica High Court on Thursday (June 3, 2021) adjourned the hearing on a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of fugitive diamond trader Mehul Choksi, local media reported.

The local reports also revealed that Judge Bernie Stephenson will decide the next date of hearing after meeting both sides. The adjournment of the hearing is to allow lawyers for Choksi and the Dominica Government “to agree on the language to be used with respect to the injunction filed to prevent his removal from Dominica”, the media outlet reported.

The hearing of the case was conducted via video conferencing, while the outside of the court witnessed a gathering of protesters, some of which were carrying “Who brought Choksi to Dominica?” placards. 

Meanwhile, Antigua Information Minister Melford Nicholas said that he is not authorised to disclose any intelligence information regarding the case. An intelligence report has been presented to the Antigua Cabinet regarding Mehul Choksi’s missing case and the mysterious girl who was with him in Dominica.

Information Minister of Antigua, Nicholas said, “We did receive intelligence briefings, I am not authorised to disclose any particular intelligence information on the basis that it could prejudice the investigation that is taking place.”

“I don’t know about the law enforcement officials here but clearly they will have to interfere with law enforcement officials in Dominica as the matter is in the court,” added Nicholas.

The judge had on Wednesday ordered production of Mehul Choksi before a magistrate to face charges of illegal entry into Dominica. The 62-year-old wheelchair-bound diamantaire arrived before the Roseau Magistrate Court from the Dominica China Friendship Hospital where he is undergoing treatment.

Earlier, Mehul Choksi’s wife Priti Choksi had also said that the mysterious girl who is rumored to be his girlfriend is known to her husband and to his other acquaintances.

“The woman was known to my husband and to his other acquaintances. She walked with my husband periodically when she was visiting Antigua. From what I have understood from people who have met her, the woman shown on media channels is not the same woman that they knew as Barbara,” said Priti Choksi.

These developments came after Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Gaston Browne last week had said Mehul Choksi was in the country to meet his girlfriend for a romantic trip when he was busted.

Mehul Choksi’s lawyer claimed that his client went missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda where he has been staying since 2018 as a citizen. His lawyers also alleged that he was kidnapped from Jolly Harbour in Antigua by policemen looking like Antiguan and Indian and brought to Dominica on a boat. 

The lawyer also added that the only question in front of the Dominican court is whether he entered Dominica illegally or not and whether the local police has the right to keep him in custody.

The events go back to 2018, when Mehul Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi had fled India in the first week of January days before a Rs 13,500 crore scam in Punjab National Bank rocked the Indian banking industry.

(With Agency inputs)

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