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Saturday, June 10, 2023

Antigua Cabinet prefers Choksi is sent directly to Bharat from Dominica

As a Dominican High Court is all set to hear the habeas corpus plea of Indian fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi, who is wanted in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case, the Antiguan Cabinet on Thursday discussed that the diamantaire is now a problem of Dominica and if he is sent to Antigua he will become Antigua’s problem.

The Antiguan Cabinet under Prime Minister Gaston Browne said that the cabinet prefers that Choksi is sent directly to Bharat from Dominica.

According to Antigua News Room, a news outlet in the Caribbean Island, the Antigua Cabinet held a discussion on the Choksi matter, awaiting the decision of the High Court of Dominica.

It said that Choksi remains in Dominica and has been charged with entering illegally. He will return to Court later on Thursday to answer to the charge.

“Local law enforcement officials continue to gather intelligence in investigation of the circumstances of Choksi’s departure from Antigua,” it said.

It noted that Choksi claims he was abducted.

“Choksi has become Dominica’s problem at this time. If he finds himself in Antigua, the problem reverts to Antigua and Barbuda. The preference of the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda is for Choksi to be repatriated to India from Dominica,” it added.

On Wednesday, Choksi pleaded not guilty to illegal entry at his court appearance and was denied bail.

Choksi appeared before the magistrate on a wheelchair wearing a blue T-shirt and black pants.

According to Dominica News Online, a news outlet in the Caribbean island, the Magistrate’s court in Dominica has denied bail to Choksi after the government prosecutor argued that he is facing 11 offences in Bharat and extradition proceedings in Antigua and could be a flight risk.

The magistrate has adjourned the matter to June 14.

The 62-year-old is wanted by the CBI and the ED in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case. He left Bharat in January 2018, days before the CBI registered a case.

Choksi had gone missing from Antigua on May 23 sparking a massive manhunt. He was captured in Dominica on May 26.

On Tuesday, Choksi had told a Bharatiya news outlet that he was abducted by Bharatiya agents and was given a shock with a Taser gun whenever he resisted. He also alleged that he was beaten up by the officials.

On May 27, first pictures of Choksi emerged online, showing several signs of bruises on his arms and a swollen eye.

“Choksi was forced to get into a vessel from Antigua and was taken to Dominica,” Choksi’s counsel Agarwal had told IANS. He also claimed that there were marks on Choksi’s body, implying the use of force.

“There is something fishy and I guess it was a strategy to take him to another place so that there are chances of sending him back to Bharat. So I don’t know what forces are operating. Time will tell,” he had said.

However, Antigua Police Commissioner Atlee Rodney has dismissed the claims of Choksi’s counsel and said that they have no information on him being forcefully removed. An eight-member team of Bharatiya officials has also landed in Dominica on a private jet for the extradition of Choksi.

(The story has been published via a syndicated feed with a modified headline and minor edits to conform to HinduPost style-guide.)

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