Choksi produced in Dominica court on wheelchair
June 03, 2021  09:05
Diamantaire Mehul Choksi was produced before a magistrate in Dominica to answer charges of his illegal entry into the Caribbean island nation following a high court order on Wednesday, local media reported.
He appeared before the magistrate on a wheelchair in a blue T-shirt and black shorts.
Earlier in the day, Dominica High Court Judge Bernie Stephenson issued the order for his production before a magistrate after nearly three hours of hearing on a habeas corpus petition filed on behalf of the businessman who had claimed that he was abducted from neighbouring Antigua and Barbuda and forcefully brought to the Caribbean Island nation.
She adjourned the habeas corpus matter till Thursday, Dominica News Online reported.
Rejecting the submission of Choksi who is wanted in India in an alleged Rs 13,500 crore loan fraud case in Punjab National Bank and has an Interpol Red Notice against him,, the prosecution said the habeas corpus petition does not stand as he had illegally entered the country and was subsequently detained.
His lawyers, however, alleged that he was kidnapped from Jolly Harbour in Antigua and brought to Dominica on a boat, about 100 nautical miles away.
"Our stand that Mr 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 illegal detention of Mr Mehul Choksi as pleaded by the defence," Choksi's lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said.
"The matter being heard is of habeas corpus petition...and not of his repatriation to India. His citizenship is not in question before the court....  Contrary to numerous media reports, there was no discussion regarding Government of India," Aggarwal said.
The diamantaire, who mysteriously went missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda where he had been staying since 2018 as a citizen, was detained in neighbouring Dominica for illegal entry after a possible romantic escapade with his rumoured girlfriend.
Choksi's wife Preeti told reporters that the woman in question was not his girlfriend.
She said the woman was known to him and used to go on walks with him.
She said Choksi was abducted by people looking like Indian and Antiguan when he had gone to meet the woman.
During Wednesday's trial, Choksi was present through video-conferencing from Dominica China Friendship Hospital while his lawyers were present physically in court.
The judge asked authorities to share court documents with Choksi who is admitted at the Hospital.
His lawyers said that he does not feel safe in police custody and that he should be sent back to Antigua and Barbuda, local media reported.
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