High Court Judge, Justice Birnie Stephenson, has issued a gag order restricting information or comment from being made publicly by the attorneys involved in the case of the Indian fugitive Mehul Choksi.
Choksi is wanted by India’s judicial authorities for criminal conspiracy, criminal breach of trust, cheating and dishonesty including delivery of property, corruption, and money laundering.
The businessman, who took citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda in 2017 using the Citizenship by Investment Programme before fleeing India in January 2018, was reported missing in Antigua and Barbuda on Sunday by his wife, which prompted a police search for him. However, it was later confirmed that Choksi was is in the custody of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) in Dominica.
A team of lawyers in Dominica comprising Julien Prevost, Wayne Norde, Wayne Marsh and Cara Shillingford-Marsh who were engaged by Choksi’s Antigua-based attorney, Justin Simon to represent him in Dominica, complained that they were denied access by members of the Commonwealth of Dominica Police Force (CDPF) to speak with their client and the authorities were attempting to have Choksi removed from Dominica and returned to Antigua.
As a result, the attorneys filed an application to prevent his removal from the island and to obtain access to their client which was granted by the Judge yesterday– May 27.
The attorneys filed a writ of habeas corpus, a method used to bring a prisoner or other detainee before the court to determine if the person’s imprisonment or detention is lawful.
A habeas petition proceeds as a civil action against the state agent (usually a warden) who holds the defendant in custody.
The case continued in court today, however, the matter was dealt with “in Chambers” and as such, it was not opened to the media or the general public.
Following the hearing, members of the press attempted to speak to Choksi’s attorneys but were informed that due to the gag order issued by the Judge no information could be provided.
Dominica News Online (DNO) has since learned that attempts by the Police to charge Choksi with illegal entry was not successful as the fugitive claims that he was kidnapped and brought to Dominica via a sail vessel on Sunday evening.
Wayne Marsh also confirmed to DNO in an earlier interview that there were visible marks and bruises to his client’s face, as if he were beaten, allegations which Choksi also made.
Choksi has since been placed in a government quarantine facility and the matter adjourned to June 2, 2021, in open court.