We will not be bullied, PM says

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Prime Minister Gaston Browne has declared that his government will not be forced into arresting accused fraudster Mehul Choksi on the request of the Indian government.
“This idea that they can force us to take any decision and go against the laws and constitution of our country and one in which they are trying to force the executive to meddle in the domain of the judiciary, that is something that will not be tolerated,” Browne told OBSERVER media yesterday.
He said that as far as he is aware, Choksi’s nephew is in a similar legal situation in the United Kingdom (UK) but the Indian government has not made the same demands that they are making to the government here. The prime minister proclaimed that just as the UK government is a sovereign one, so too is the Government of Antigua and Barbuda.
Browne said that his government has signalled its full cooperation with Indian authorities but this matter is one for the court to decide. He said that the attorney general has said that the matter is in the hands of the director of public prosecution.
He added that he believes that the Indian agency known as the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI) understands the process and because Antigua and Barbuda is a nation of laws, the constitutional rights of citizens must be upheld.
Lawyer for the accused, Dr. David Dorsett, said in an interview yesterday, that he is aware of the rumour that a request has been made by the Indian government to have Choksi arrested, but nothing has been communicated formally to him or his client.
Dorsett, however, admitted that the local authorities are not obliged to inform him or his client if such a request has been made but he remains optimistic that the government may not grant extradition after examining the case by the Indian authorities.
Dorsett said that extradition is not automatic.
Mehul Choksi, an Indian billionaire businessman, wanted for alleged fraud in India, was granted Antiguan and Barbudan citizenship in November 2017 under the Citizenship by Investment Programme.

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