Following a near five-hour long court proceeding, High court Judge, Justice Wynante Adrien-Roberts has denied bail to alleged Indian fugitive Mehul Choksi on the basis that he is a “flight risk.”
Choksi, on June 2, 2021, pleaded not guilty to illegal entry into Dominica. His request for bail was first rejected by the Chief Magistrate, Candia Carrette-George.
Through his attorneys who include Julien Prevost, Wayne Norde, Wayne Benjamin Marsh and Cara Shillingford-Marsh, an application was filed in the high court for bail and the hearing, commenced on June 8 and concluded on June 11, via zoom.
At the hearing, Choksi’s legal team argued that as a Caribbean Community (CARICOM) citizen, he is entitled to such benefits since his alleged offense is not of a serious nature.
The attorneys further pleaded with the court to impose stringent measures as part of his bail conditions and said their client would be willing to pay any amount set out by the court as his bail sum.
Additionally, the lawyers stated that the fact that their client is unwell is all the more reason why bail should be granted as his ailment does not make him a flight risk.
However, the attorneys for the state who included the acting Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Sherma Dalrymple, attorney-at-law Lennox Lawrence, Jodie Luke and Heather Felix-Evans opposed Choksi’s bail on account of him being a flight risk, an Interpol Red Notice against him and an extradition proceeding in the Antiguan court, which they say are reasons for him to flee the island.
Following arguments from both sides, Justice Adrien-Roberts handed down her judgment in favor of the state attorneys.
The defense attorneys had informed the judge that with the arrival of Choksi’s brother in Dominica, he would be able to ensure Choksi’s presence in court at the set dates, however, Justice Adrien- Roberts was not satisfied that the accused had enough ties in Dominica to not flee.
She further stated that the court cannot impose any condition that will assure Choksi will not abscond. As such, bail was denied. However, the defense attorneys were informed that they could reapply for bail at a later date.
Meantime, an application made in the Magistrate court pursuant to section 212 of the Magistrate code of procedure by the DPP requesting that the prisoner be brought before a magistrate every three days to be further remanded until he is discharged from the hospital, came under review by Magistrate Pearl Williams this morning.
Choksi has been a patient at the DCFH since May 29, 2021.
Magistrate Williams said, based on her understanding of this section of law, the defendant was not required to appear before the court every three days but said a decision will be made based on the outcome of the bail application in the High court.
Choksi’s trial for illegal entry is expected to commence on June 14, 2021, at the Magistrate court whilst the High court has adjourned the Habeas Corpus matter sine die.
Choksi’s attorneys have filed an application for a writ of Habeas Corpus against the Chief of Police, Lincoln Corbette, as well as the Attorney General, Levi Peters, claiming that he is unlawfully detained and requesting that he be deported back to Antigua, the country from which he came.
At the last High court hearing of this matter –June 3 – presiding Judge, Justice Bernie Stephenson, ordered that the attorneys for the applicant and the respondent file certain submissions which she will rule on and set a date for the recommencement of the trial.
The 62-year-old diamond tycoon who gained citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda, is wanted by the Indian judicial authorities for allegedly cheating the Punjab National Bank of over two billion US dollars, one of India’s largest bank fraud cases in decades.
The circumstances surrounding the mysterious appearance of the Indian fugitive on a remote beach in Dominica remain a mystery.
Whilst his attorneys allege that he was kidnapped, beaten and unwillingly brought to Dominica, the police claim that he entered the shores illegally on May 24, 2021.