India seems to be going all out as it has sent a private jet to get Mehul Choksi repatriated directly from Dominica, Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne has told the local media there. Browne also claimed that Choksi may have taken his girlfriend to Dominica on a romantic trip and got caught.
A Bombardier Global 5,000 jet of Qatar Executive had mysteriously landed at Dominica’s Douglas Charles airport on Saturday. It’s publicly accessible flight path shows that it took off from New Delhi on May 28 and reached Dominica via Madrid.
PM Browne, who has been vocal about not accepting Choksi back in his country, where he is a citizen, said, “My understanding is that [the] Indian government has sent certain documentation from courts in India to confirm that Choksi is indeed a fugitive”. These documents, Browne added, will be utilised in the court case in Dominica, where a judge is hearing the matter and has put a stay on repatriation till Wednesday.
“Indian government seems to be going all out to make sure he is repatriated to India to stand trial,” Browne told a FM channel in Antigua. The interview was posted by Antigua Newsroom on its website.
On the circumstances under which Choksi reached Dominica, Browne said – “The information that we are getting is that Mehul Choksi may have taken his girlfriend to Dominica probably to have dinner or have a good time and so on and got caught. That would have been a monumental error because in Antigua he is a citizen, we could not deport him…,” he said.
Indian officials were tight-lipped about the team which has flown to Dominica along with the documents, but they said this was their “window of opportunity” to bring Choksi to India because once he reaches Antigua, he will have citizenship rights and the extradition case can linger on for years.
Officials in New Delhi also confirmed to HT that Choksi’s Indian citizenship was never cancelled, which gives an edge to India before Dominica to seek his deportation.
Choksi’s mysterious disappearance from Antigua last Sunday and detention in Dominica, island nation about 101 nautical miles away, has caused a political storm in Antigua, where he is a citizen.
Antiguan PM Browne on Saturday accused the country’s key opposition party — United Progressive Party (UPP) of taking funds from Mehul Choksi for its political campaigns.
The UPP had issued a statement on Saturday in favour of Choksi saying that he should get his constitutional and legal rights as a citizen of Antigua.
Browne had hit back at UPP saying– “After mischievously accusing my administration of harbouring Mehul Choksi, who has an Interpol Red Notice, they are now seeking to sanitise this fugitive to get campaign funding…There has been no violation of Choksi’s legal and constitutional protections, despite the decision of my administration to revoke his citizenship.”
Earlier, on Saturday, Antigua Newsroom had released Mehul Choksi’s pictures while in custody of Dominica police.
In one of the photos, he is seen standing behind bars with his left eye swollen while another photo showed bruises on his arm.
Choksi’s lawyers Wayne Marsh and Vijay Aggarwal had alleged the businessman was abducted from Antigua and tortured on the way to Dominica and in custody.
He had gone missing from Antigua last Sunday following which a manhunt had begun in the region.
To be sure, Choksi is currently out of police custody and has been placed at a quarantine facility in Roseau, where he is allowed to meet his lawyers.
Choksi’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal said – “All these theories of Mehul Choksi fleeing from Antigua voluntarily are opposed to common sense. Firstly, he has a stay in his favour in Antigua. Secondly, I have been informed that his passport is in Antigua only, so nobody will try to escape without having his passport in his pocket. Brutal marks on body and this passport factor now establish abduction claims.”