A high court judge in Dominica will hear and rule on a bail application on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, for Indian fugitive Mehul Choksi who was denied bail by the Chief Magistrate.
A team of attorneys representing Choksi which includes Julien Prevost, Wayne Norde, Wayne Benjamin Marsh and Cara Shillingford-Marsh led by Queen’s Counsel (QC) Justin Simon in Antigua, filed the bail application in the high court on June 3, 2021.
Choksi, who has been in the Commonwealth of Dominica for over one week, pleaded not guilty to illegal entry at the Magistrate court on June 2, 2021, following a High court order.
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 in decades.
The circumstances surrounding the mysterious appearance of the Indian fugitive on a remote beach in Dominica remain a mystery.
Whilst his attorneys alleged that he was kidnapped, beaten and unwillingly brought to Dominica, the police claim that he entered the shores illegally on May 24, 2021, at Toucari Beach and have charged him with that offence.
At the hearing in the Magistrate court, Acting Director of Public Prosecution (DPP), Sherma Dalrymple pleaded with the court to not grant bail to the accused as she deemed him a “flight risk.”
The Prosecutor listed two grounds for her claim which included the fact that Choksi has an Interpol Red Notice against him as he is facing charges for 11 offences in India. Additionally, she revealed that the Antiguan government has instituted legal proceedings to have Choksi extradited.
However, one of the defendant’s attorneys, Wayne Norde, refuted the Prosecutors grounds for objection and informed the court that the Indian fugitive is not a flight risk considering his health conditions.
Norde stated the Interpol Red Notice and the extradition proceeding in the Antiguan court is more reason for Choksi not to leave Dominica.
He advised the Magistrate that stringent conditions can be added to the fugitive’s bail condition and proposed a bail sum of EC$10,000.00, double the maximum penalty for illegal entry, which Dalrymple asked the court not to consider.
The attorney further informed the court that Choksi had no pending criminal matter in Antigua, the country in which he attained citizenship in 2017 but a civil matter which demonstrates that he is of good character.
In handing down her decision, presiding Magistrate Candia Carrette-George sided with the Prosecutor and stated that given the “severity” of the matter, she is not convinced that Choksi will stay in Dominica to stand trial.
Bail was denied and the matter was adjourned to June 14, 2021, in the Roseau magistrate court.
Choksi has been a patient at the Dominica China Friendship Hospital (DCFH) since May 29, hence, the DPP made an application pursuant to section 212 of the Magistrate code of procedure requesting that the prisoner be brought before a magistrate every three days to be further remanded until he is discharged from the hospital.
Once discharged from the hospital, if bail is not granted, Choksi will appear before the court every seven days to be remanded until his trial has concluded.
Meantime, the High court has adjourned the Habeas Corpus matter sine die.
Choksi 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 court in which he came from.
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 submission which she will rule on and set a date for the recommencement of the trial.