Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Gaston Browne on Wednesday said fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi used the courts to stay the revocation of his citizenship instead of subjecting himself to an inquiry as required by law. Choksi, who mysteriously went missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda where he has been staying since 2018 as a citizen was detained in neighbouring Dominica for illegal entry.
Browne has recently faced flak from the Dominican leader of the opposition Lennox Linton over alleged involvement in Choksi’s abduction. Choksi’s lawyers have argued that he was kidnapped from Jolly Harbour in Antigua by policemen looking like Antiguan and Indian and brought to Dominica on a boat.
Linton was reported to have received token money of $2,00,000 and promised more than a million-dollar of financial assistance in the upcoming general elections by Mehul Choksi’s brother Chetan Chinubhai Choksi. A claim that he denied in an exclusive interview with CNN-News18.
“I do not know Chetan Choksi. I have not seen him, met him or spoken to him. I could not have met anyone at a residence that does not exist. I would not be surprised if I am being targeted by my government…I have been targeted before,” he said.
However, Antigua PM Browne also accused Choksi of conspiring with a “well-known” opposition politician. “Choksi changed his lawyer to a well-known member of the United Progressive Party (UPP) who had promised him protection, for campaign funding. That’s why they want that he shouldn’t be deported to India, but back to Antigua where he could continue to hide behind constitutional protections,” he told ANI.
Choksi’s citizenship is contested in Antiguan court due to the concealment of information in his citizenship application. This has emerged as a point of contention between the two neighbouring countries. The Dominican government had issued a statement that it is ascertaining the status of his citizenship with Antigua and once confirmed, he would be deported there.
Antigua Prime Minister had said Dominica and law enforcement agencies, unless the court rules otherwise, can deport him to India because he is an Indian citizen.
In light of the recent developments, Browne revealed a letter dated October 14, 2019, in which Antigua PM’s office had deprived Mehul Choksi of Antigua and Barbuda citizenship on the grounds of willful concealment of material facts and/or false representation for citizenship application.