By Naveen Kapoor
Saint John's [Antigua], June 2 (ANI): Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne on Wednesday said that his administration stands by its request for Dominica to extradite Indian-born fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi directly back to India, "where he is still a citizen."
"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.
"My administration stands by its request to Dominica to extradite Mehul Choksi directly back to India where he is still a citizen," he added.
The Antigua Prime Minister told ANI that Mehul Choksi "changed his lawyer to a well-known member of the 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," Browne said.
The Antigua Prime Minister also shared a notice of October 14, 2019 in which he had proposed depriving Choksi of his citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda
"As Minister with responsibility for Citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda, I hereby propose to make an order pursuant to section 8 of the Antigua and Barbuda Citizenship Act, Cap. 22 to deprive you of Antigua and Barbuda citizenship on the grounds of wilful concealment of material facts and/or false representation to support your application for citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda," said the notice signed by Browne and sent to Mehul Choksi. He was required to respond to it in a month.
Earlier today, Associates Times citing sources had reported that Mehul Choksi's brother, who is also a bank defaulter, allegedly promised election funding to Dominica's Leader of the Opposition Lennox Linton in exchange for pushing Mehul Choksi's abduction theory.
The sources said Chetan Chinu Bhai Choksi had met Linton on May 30, where they discussed several aspects related to Mehul Choksi's arrest and agreed on the commitment that in exchange for token money and promise of election donation, the opposition leader will press the matter in Parliament.
They also told Associates Times that Chetan disclosed during the conversation that Mehul had reached Dominica on his own, but they require the assistance of the opposition to tackle the matter in court and against the Dominica government to make them believe that he was abducted by Antiguan and Indian police.
Sources cited by Associates Times also said Chetan gave Linton token money of USD 200,000 and promised him more than a million-dollar of financial assistance in the upcoming general elections and in exchange Linton would issue statements favouring Mehul Choksi.
It reported that Linton, who had remained mum on the matter, has now aggressively initiated his attacks on the government after the meeting with Mehul Choksi's brother.
It also reported that the Dominican Leader of Opposition has a long history of taking money from people for delivering unauthorized promises. Al Jazeera reported that in 2019 Linton had promised a diplomatic passport to some investor in exchange for election funds amounting to about USD 200,000.
In October 2017, Linton also allegedly supported the separation propaganda of Brahim Ghali, who is facing critical criminal charges in the National Court of Spain. This image of the leader has raised questions on his instant stand in favour of Mehul Choksi, who is wanted for fraud charges in India.
However, in an exclusive interview with ANI, Linton denied the allegations, claiming that he has never known or met Chetan Choksi.
"I don't know Chetan Choksi, I have never seen Chetan Choksi. I've never spoken to or with Chetan Choksi, I think there is an online story coming from a publication called Something times, I've never seen this website. I think this publication must be associated with passport selling friends of some of these governments in the region," he told ANI.
He also said the report was a "total lie"' and there was absolutely no truth to it, adding that he had no private residence in Marigot, as it was blown away by a hurricane and that he was not even present in Marigot on May 30, as suggested by Associates Times.
"I have not received any money from anybody in exchange for favours or as a result of things that have done or not done or promised to do or not do," he said.
Calling the report an "absolute garbage", Linton said the political opposition in Dominica had no contacts with Mehul Choksi, his agents or his associates.
"We have not met with Mehul Choksi and his associate and not even his family members. We don't know them. There is absolutely no arrangement for them to for any funding for the campaigning or anything there is no such arrangement. This is absolutely false..," he said.
Meanwhile, a team from India has arrived in Dominica, ahead of a Caribbean court hearing that will decide on whether fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi will be deported to India. (ANI)