ROSEAU: A magisterial court in Dominica has rejected the bail application of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi in connection with his illegal entry into the country, said his lawyer Vijay Aggarwal on Thursday. Choksi had gone missing from Antigua on May 23 after going out for dinner and was soon caught in Dominica after Antigua police launched a manhunt for him last month.
Mehul was charged with illegal entry by the police in Dominica after he allegedly escaped from Antigua and Barbuda in a possible attempt to evade extradition to India.
The matter was brought before the court on Monday and after deliberations for just over three hours, the judge ruled that the application of habeas corpus be adjourned until 9 am Thursday. During the hearing, Dominican Judge Bernie Stephenson said that the fugitive businessman must answer the illegal entry charges into Dominica in Magistrates court.
The India-born fugitive is currently at the China Friendship Hospital. He came to the court in a wheelchair.
On Wednesday, Aggarwal said that Mehul was kidnapped and he didn't go to Dominica of his own free will, adding that the only question in front of the Dominican court is where he entered Dominica illegally or not and whether the local police has the right to keep him in custody.
Aggarwal said that according to Dominican law, any arrested accused has to be presented before the court in 72 hours and added that because Mehul was not presented in court within the prescribed time, the court has ordered to produce him before the magistrate at 4 pm (Dominica time).
Mehul's wife Priti Choksi on Wednesday said the woman who is rumoured to be his girlfriend is known to her husband and to his other acquaintances.
On the reports that fugitive diamantaire was tortured in Dominica, Priti said, "What has brought most anguish to the family is the physical torture and total disregard for the human rights of my husband. If someone really wanted him back alive, why did they need to torture and abuse him physically and mentally? My husband has many health issues."
On the question of Mehul Choksi's deportation, his wife said, "He is 63 years old and he is an Antiguan citizen. He enjoys all the rights and protection that the Antigua and Barbuda constitution gives him. I have full faith in the rule of law and the justice system of the Caribbean nations. We await his safe and rightful return to Antigua at the earliest."
Meanwhile, a team from India has arrived in Dominica, ahead of a Caribbean court hearing that will decide on whether the fugitive diamantaire will be deported to India.
Mehul Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are accused in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case. Mehul fled the country was granted citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in January 2018. He is involved in a legal battle to prevent his extradition to India.