Choksi denied bail by Dominica magistrate: Local media report

A Dominica magistrate has denied bail to absconding diamond tycoon Mehul Choksi, who was arrested on May 23 for alleged illegal entry to the Caribbean island country.

The Dominica High Court has denied bail to fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi:

Choksi, wanted here in connection with a Rs 13,500-crore fraud in the Punjab National Bank (PNB), pleaded before the magistrate that he was abducted and forcibly brought to Dominica from neighbouring Antigua and Barbuda, about 100 nautical miles away, Dominica News Online reported.

The 62-year-old wheelchair-bound diamantaire, who has a pending Interpol Red Corner Notice (RCN) against him, arrived before the presiding Roseau Magistrate Court in a black pair of shorts and a blue T-shirt from the Dominica China Friendship Hospital, where he is undergoing treatment.

mehul choksi denied bail by dominica magistrate: local media

The Dominica High Court, which was hearing a habeas corpus petition filed by Choksi, had ordered him to be presented before the magistrate to face charges of illegal entry.

A habeas corpus petition is filed for producing before a court a person who is under arrest or in unlawful detention. Choksi had approached the High Court after the magistrate had rejected his bail petition.

“Our stand that Mehul Choksi is in illegal detention as he was required to be produced within 72 hours before the magistrate and was not so produced has been vindicated. In order to remedy this, he has been asked to be produced before the magistrate. This establishes the illegal detention of Choksi as pleaded by the defence. Contrary to numerous media reports, there was no discussion regarding the Government of India,” Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said here.

During the hearing before Magistrate Candia Carrette-George, the Dominica prosecution cited two main arguments to keep Choksi under detention — theN against him and the ongoing extradition proceedings in the courts of Antigua and Barbuda, where he is staying since 2018 after leaving India.

choksi denied bail by dominica magistrate

Prosecutor Sherma Dalrymple told the court that Choksi is a “flight risk” and does not have any ties in Dominica that prevent him from fleeing the country if bail is granted.

Defence counsel Wayne Norde said Choksi was not a flight risk considering his health and the pending extradition proceedings in Antigua and Barbuda were also a reason for him not to leave Dominica.

The promoter of Geetanjali Gems and other famous diamond brands in India had fled the country weeks before ₹13,500 crore fraud in Punjab National Bank (PNB) allegedly involving him and his nephew Nirav Modi surfaced.

Offering to pay a bail amount of ECD 10,000, double the fine amount for illegal entry to Dominica, Norde said Choksi did not have any criminal case in Antigua and Barbuda and the proceedings against him were civil in nature, which shows that he is a a man of good character.

The lawyer said the new act bail says a defendant is entitled to the relief as a right unless the offence is of a serious nature.

In her order, the magistrate said considering the “severity” of the matter, she is not convinced that Choksi will stay in the country to face legal proceedings and adjourned the matter till June 14.

He was detained in the neighbouring island country of Dominica for illegal entry after a possible romantic escapade with his rumoured girlfriend.

mehul choksi denied bail by dominica court: "he's a flight risk" - youtube

Choksi’s lawyers alleged that he was kidnapped from Jolly Harbour in Antigua by policemen looking like Antiguan and Indian and brought to Dominica on a boat.

He was also brought before a Roseau magistrate, on the orders of High Court Judge Bernie Stephenson, hearing Habeas Corpus matter, to answer charges of illegal entry where he pleaded not guilty but was denied bail.

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