The magistrate’s court in Dominica has denied bail to fugitive Mehul Choksi after the state attorney of Dominica argued that he is facing 11 offences in India and extradition proceedings in Antigua and could be a flight risk, according to reports in local media. The matter has been adjourned to June 14 when the illegal entry charge will be heard.
Interestingly, the state attorney, Sherma Dalrymple, while listing the illegal entry charge against Choksi, also informed the magistrate that he did enter Dominica illegally on May 21.
Till now, it was being claimed by his family and lawyers that he went missing from Antigua on May 23 (Sunday).
Dominican government’s claim that he entered the country two earlier than what his family claimed has further raised eyebrows on the circumstances under which he actually reached the island.
According to dominicanewsonline, Choksi has pleaded ‘not guilty’ to the illegal entry charge. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, earlier on Wednesday, had ordered him to be produced in court and face the illegal entry charge.
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Dalrymple, while pleading to the court not to grant him bail, informed magistrate Candia Carrette-George that Choksi entered the country illegally on May 21 at Toucari beach and she deemed him a ‘flight risk’.
The government prosecutor listed two grounds while seeking to reject his bail. She said Choksi has an Interpol red notice against him as he is facing 11 offences in India, and that his extradition proceedings are currently going on in Antigua.
Dalrymple argued that Choksi has no ties in Dominica hence it would serve him no purpose not to flee the island if bail is granted, dominicanewsonline reported.
Choksi’s lawyer, Waye Norde, however, sought bail on the ground that he was kidnapped, beaten and unwillingly brought to Dominica. Refuting state attorney’s allegations, he said Choksi is not a flight risk considering his health conditions. Norde stated the Interpol red notice and the extradition proceeding in the Antiguan court are reasons for Choksi not to leave Dominica.
The defence lawyer also advised the magistrate that stringent conditions can be added to the fugitive’s bail condition and proposed a bail sum of East Caribbean $10,000, which is double the amount of maximum penalty for illegal entry.
Dalrymple objected to the offer.
Norde argued that Section 4 of the new bail Act indicates that a defendant is entitled to bail as a right unless the offence is of a serious nature. “Various non-nationals in Dominica are on bail for similar matters, so we are of the view that bail can be granted to our client with or without conditions to his bail,” he contended.
He also said that Choksi has no pending criminal matter in Antigua, where he is a citizen since 2017, which demonstrates his good character.
After the magistrated refused to grant him bail, Choksi was sent back to Dominica-China Friendship Hospital, where he was admitted earlier this week. Once he is released, he will be sent to the police custody.