A court in Dominica has put on hold the deportation of fugitive diamond jeweler Mehul Choksi, who was arrested in the Caribbean island nation while trying to escape to Cuba from Antigua, where he had been living since 2018. Antigua Prime Minister Gaston Browne had asked Dominica to send him back to India directly but this has been contested by his lawyers, who claim that the wanted businessman cannot be sent to India as he is is no longer a citizen of the country.
The next hearing in the matter on Friday at 9 am local time.
Mehul Choksi’s legal team in Dominica had filed a petition after they were allegedly not given access to him, local media reported. They also claimed that “marks of torture” have been reported on his body.
“I noticed that he was severely beaten, his eyes were swollen and he had several burnt marks on his body. He reported to me that he was abducted at Jolly Harbour in Antigua and brought to Dominica by persons whom he believed to be Indian and Antiguan police on a vessel he described to be about 60-70 feet in length,” Wayne Marsh, Choksi’s lawyer in Dominica, was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
Sources in the Indian government have reiterated that the government will use diplomatic channels will be used to bring back the fugitive jeweler, who is wanted in connection with the Punjab National Bank (PNB) loan fraud case.
Mehul Choksi was caught when he was allegedly trying to escape to Cuba from Antigua, where he had been living since 2018 after leaving India. He reportedly left Antigua and took a boat to neighbouring Dominica. With an Interpol lookout circular against him, he was caught by the police from a beach in Dominica.
The diamond jeweler, along with his nephew Nirav Modi, is wanted in India for allegedly siphoning off Rs 13,500 crore of public money from the state-run Punjab National Bank using fake documents. Nirav Modi, jailed in London, is contesting his extradition to India.