Choksi due back before Dominica court today

Mehul Choksi recorded entering the Magistrate Court in Dominica (social media photo)
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Fugitive diamond dealer Mehul Choksi will today learn if he is to be granted bail by the High Court in Dominica.

Attorneys representing the 62-year-old filed the application in the court last Thursday, a day after Choksi was denied bail in the Magistrate’s Court.

The circumstances surrounding Choksi’s appearance on a remote beach in Dominica two weeks ago, days after he was reported missing from his Antigua home, remain a mystery.

Whilst his attorneys alleged that he was kidnapped, beaten and forced onto a boat to the island, Dominican police claim he entered the shores illegally and have charged him with that offence.

At the hearing in the Magistrate’s Court, Acting Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Sherma Dalrymple, said bail should not be granted as Choksi was a “flight risk”.

She pointed out that Choksi has an Interpol red notice against him as he is facing charges for 11 offences in his native India, and also that the Antiguan government has begun legal proceedings to have Choksi extradited.

However, one of the defendant’s attorneys, Wayne Norde, said his client could not be a flight risk due to health problems.

Norde said the red notice was in fact more reason for Choksi to wish to stay in Dominica.

He said stringent conditions could be added to the fugitive’s bail conditions and proposed a bail sum of EC$10,000 – double the maximum penalty for illegal entry – which Dalrymple asked the court not to consider.

The attorney further informed the court that Choksi has no pending criminal matter in Antigua, the country in which he attained citizenship in 2017, which demonstrates that he is of good character.

In handing down her decision, presiding magistrate Candia Carrette-George sided with the prosecutor and stated that, given the “severity” of the matter, she was not convinced Choksi would stay in Dominica to stand trial.

Choksi has been a patient at the Dominica China Friendship Hospital since May 29.

Once discharged from the hospital, if bail is not granted, Choksi will appear before the court every seven days to be remanded until his trial has concluded.

The diamond tycoon is wanted by Indian judicial authorities for allegedly cheating the Punjab National Bank of over US$2 billion.

Meanwhile, Choksi has filed a formal complaint against the Antigua and Barbuda police force claiming he was abducted by its officers, outlining details of a “brutal beating” which included use of a Taser “causing burns, bruises and immense pain”.

Prime Minister Gaston Browne said over the weekend that Antigua and Barbuda authorities are taking the report very seriously.

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