No unauthorised individual was onboard during Dominica trip, says captain of yacht

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Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi (File Photo)
Fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi (File Photo)

Roseau [Dominica], June 8 (ANI): In a new twist to the controversy surrounding fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi's arrival in Dominica from Antigua, captain of Calliope of Arne yacht, Fernandes Fertinant has said that "no unauthorised individuals" had come onboard his vessel between May 23 to May 25.

He also said that it was not possible for his two guests on the boat to "abduct someone" and that people would not use an official boat to abduct someone.

In an exclusive interview with Caribbean-based media outlet Associate Times, Captain Ferdinant said, "there was absolutely no unauthorised individual onboard."

During the boat trip to Dominica, he said that total five people were onboard, including him, two of his staff members and two guests.

Talking about two guests, the Captain said that he thinks that it is not possible for them to abduct someone.

He said one was aged over 50, and another one was over 63 and was having some issues with his leg as he could not walk properly. "Both of them were not fit, and I do not believe that they could have kidnapped anyone forcibly."

Choksi, in his complaint to Antigua and Barbuda police, has alleged abduction. He is also learnt to have named some individuals.

Fertinant said people would not use an official boat to abduct someone.

Asked if unofficial boats sail between countries, he said: "All the time, we hear the news that speed boats roam around the region for human trafficking or illegal immigration. The boats they sail in are unofficial have no record of the voyage. I do not think people would use an official boat to abduct someone."

Fertinant said the yacht was not hired on May 23. He said it was hired on May 19 for one week and there was no woman on the boat since as it was hired by two men.

"We did sailing in Antigua for about four days, and then on May 23, we sailed to Dominica. The second guest got sick of ocean waves while reaching Dominica, so we cancelled the plan to go to St Lucia and they both stayed in Dominica. From there, my crew and I sailed to St Lucia."

"We reached English Harbour, Antigua on May 22 for immigration and customs clearance evening. On May 23 morning around 10 am after clearing customs, we left for Dominica at around 11 am as by regulation, you need to leave the country after clearing the immigration and customs. And after covering 11 hours journey, we were able to reach Dominica late evening on May 23 at Portsmouth. Because it was late night when we reached Dominica, we cleared customs and immigration the next day morning," he added.

Fertinant said they provide sailing services to the people, and anyone can hire them for sailing.

"It is my bread and butter, and I've been providing charter services for more than 20 years. My clients have had planned to travel from Antigua to Dominica and then St Lucia."

Choksi had gone missing from Antigua on May 23 after going out for dinner and was soon caught in Dominica. 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.

The 62-year-old fugitive is wanted in India in connection with a Rs 13500-crore fraud in the Punjab National Bank (PNB). (ANI)