Antigua and Barbuda Cabinet prefers Mehul Choksi to be repatriated to India from Dominica, says PM Browne

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Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi (File photo)
Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi (File photo)

Saint John's [Antigua], June 3 (ANI): Antigua and Barbuda prefers that fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi be repatriated directly to India from Dominica, the Cabinet of the Caribbean island country decided in a meeting.

In a Facebook post, Prime Minister Gaston Browne said his cabinet held a discussion on Choksi's matter, adding that he has become Dominica's problem at this time.

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 Mehul Choksi last month.

He 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.

A Dominican court on Thursday denied bail to Choksi. During the hearing, Dominican Judge Bernie Stephenson said the fugitive businessman must answer the illegal entry charges into Dominica in Magistrates court.

"The Cabinet held a discussion on the Choksi matter, awaiting the decision of the High Court of Dominica. Choksi remains in Dominica and has been charged for entering the Commonwealth illegally," Browne's post read.

"Local law enforcement officials continue to gather intelligence in investigation of the circumstances of Choksi's departure from Antigua. Choksi claims he was abducted. Choksi has become Dominica's problem at this time. If he finds himself in Antigua, the problem reverts to Antigua and Barbuda. The preference of the Cabinet of Antigua and Barbuda is for Choksi to be repatriated to India from Dominica," he added.

Browne had requested Dominica to extradite Mehul Choksi directly to India.

"Instead of subjecting himself to an inquiry as required by law, he (Mehul Choksi) used the courts to stay the revocation of his citizenship," Antigua PM told ANI on Wednesday.

"My administration stands by its request to Dominica to extradite Mehul Choksi directly back to India where he is still a citizen," he added.

Choksi and his nephew Nirav Modi are accused in the Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case. Choksi fled the country. He was granted citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in January 2018. He is involved in a legal battle to prevent his extradition to India.

Meanwhile, the fugitive diamantaire's lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said on Wednesday Choksi was kidnapped, he did not go to Dominica on his own free will and added that the only question in front of the Dominican court is whether he entered Dominica illegally or not and whether the local police has the right to keep him in custody. (ANI)