Fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi’s capture has now taken a political turn in Dominica, with the island’s main opposition party accusing Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit of being part of a plot against the rule of law protection guaranteed to citizens under the jurisdiction of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court and demanded “full investigation” into the circumstances under which Choksi was brought to Dominica.
It has called for a probe into the “obvious collaboration between Dominica, Antigua and India” as well as against the police, immigration and customs officials involved; and the minister who instructed or influenced the police to facilitate the inhumane transfer of Mehul Choksi to Dominica.
In a statement issued on Monday, the Leader of the Opposition in Dominica’s House of Assembly – Lennox Linton – said “We demand urgent remedial action to remove the stain from this unfortunate incident on the image of Dominica and restore our country’s reputation as a responsible member of the family of nations, diligently carrying out the rule of law responsibilities of international development”.
The United Workers’ Party (UWP) is the main opposition party in Dominica and Lennox Linton is the LOP in the house.
Earlier, Antigua’s key opposition party – United Progressive Party (UPP) had issued a statement last week criticising its prime minister Gaston Browne for his statement that the country will not accept Mehul Choksi back as he enjoys legal and constitutional protection there as a citizen. Browne, responding to UPP, had on Sunday claimed that the opposition party was funded by Choksi.
Choksi went missing from Antigua on May 23 evening following which he was caught in Dominica, 101 nautical miles away. While Choksi’s legal team has claimed that he was abducted by Indian and Antiguan police officials, Browne has said that Choksi went to Dominica with his girlfriend.
The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court is currently hearing the matter as the Indian government is set to seek his deportation directly to New Delhi. The court will hear the matter on Wednesday.
The UWP leader Linton said on Monday in a statement – “The presence of Indian born Antigua and Barbuda citizen Mehul Choksi in Dominica following allegations that he was kidnapped in Antigua, beaten, ferried to Dominica, and taken into the country against his will highlights once again the extent to which departments of government are involved in organized crime under the influence and/or direction of the regime of Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit”.
It demanded an immediate end to what it termed “no law, no constitution” governance conduct that disgraces Dominica as a rogue element in the family of nations and endangers the rule of law foundation for the advancement of civility in the global community.
Asserting that Choksi’s citizenship issue is already pending in the High Court of Antigua and Barbuda, Linton said – “State actors under the leadership of the Prime Minister of Dominica appear to be part of plot against the rule of law protection guaranteed to citizens that is effectively undermining the judiciary in the jurisdiction of the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court for the benefit of a foreign power.”
“The removal of Choksi from Antigua and Barbuda, (where according to Prime Minister Gaston Browne, he enjoys the constitutional privileges of citizenship) to Dominica, was intended to facilitate his transfer to India without having to wait on the outcome of the ongoing extradition proceedings scheduled for hearing in November 2021. To that extent, Dominica has been conscripted to unlawfully violate the constitutional rights of an Antiguan citizen for crass political purposes,” the statement added.
He also gave a sequence of events in which Choksi appeared in Dominica, which he said were disturbing.