Dominicans stage protest as Choksi’s hearing adjourned

The Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP) – through which foreign nationals can become legal citizens of Antigua and Barbuda – came under scrutiny only recently from the US government, for a “lack of transparency.”
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By Shermain Bique-Charles

[email protected]

The court hearing to determine whether Dominican lawmen acted unlawfully when they arrested and charged Indian-born fugitive Mehul Choksi in Toucari on May 24 has been adjourned.

High Court Judge Birnie Stephenson said during yesterday’s hearing that she wanted to allow attorneys representing both Choksi and the state, to agree on the language that should be used with respect to the injunction filed to prevent his removal from the country.

Both parties are expected to meet to discuss the matter and to inform the judge, who will set a new court date.

Attorneys for the Dominican government argued in court yesterday that since Choksi is allowed to see his attorneys, appear physically in court and receive medical attention, there is no need for the application, known as ‘habeas corpus’.

However, the court has not yet taken a decision on the matter and the injunction remains in place.

Choksi is still a patient at the China Friendship Hospital in Dominica. He was denied bail in the Magistrates Court on Wednesday.

His attorneys – Cara Shillingford-Marsh, Wayne Marsh, Julian Prevost, Wayne Norde, Justin Simon QC, and John Carrington QC – are expected to file an application for bail in the High Court.

If they are unsuccessful, Choksi is expected to be remanded to prison in Dominica.

Choksi, a citizen and resident of Antigua and Barbuda, was arrested and charged for entering Dominica illegally. However, the Indian businessman claims he was abducted and taken to the island, beaten and tortured by men working for “those in high office”.

Both the government of Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda have denied having a hand in his kidnapping.

Meanwhile, a group of protesters assembled outside the court in Roseau on Thursday morning to demand answers from the Roosevelt Skerrit administration.

“We are not agreeing with what is happening in our country. We need to stand up and show people that we are not agreeing with all of this. Mr Choksi is supposed to be sent back to Antigua and allow Gaston Browne and his government to deal with him,” an angry placard-bearing protester told the media in Dominica.

Another woman claimed that taxpayers’ money in Dominica is now being used to harbour a man that was brought there by force and it is time to “send him back where he come out”.

“How the hell did he get here? Why it is him alone being charged for illegal entry? Who brought him here? Send him back to Antigua because our tax money feeding Choksi,” another stated.

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