Indian jet in Dominica for Mehul Choksi flies out, destination unknown
The private jet India sent to Dominica with documents linked to the deportation of fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi last week has flown out of the island at 8:10pm (local time) on Thursday, people familiar with the development said on Friday. Choksi, wanted in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case, remains at Dominica-China Friendship Hospital under police guard.
The Indian team, which went there along with the documents, has also returned, the people cited above saidalso added that the flight’s destination is not known.
Indian-born Choksi disappeared from Antigua and Barbuda, whose citizenship he holds, on May 23 but was detained by Dominican police three days later on charges of illegally entering the island, nearly 100 nautical miles away.
Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne said last week that the Bombardier Global 5000 business jet of Qatar Executive landed at Dominica’s Douglas Charles airport May 29. Browne also told a radio show in his country that Choksi may have left Antigua and taken a boat ride to neighbouring Dominica to have dinner or a “good time” with his girlfriend.
On Thursday, a court in Dominica denied bail to the 62-year-old businessman and remanded him to police custody for roughly two weeks on charges of illegally entering the island nation. And, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court adjourned hearing in a habeas corpus petition filed by Choksi’s lawyers and the government of Antigua, where the 62-year-old spent three years as a citizen before he went missing on May 23, reiterated that it favoured deporting the businessman to India.
Also watch | Dominican court denies bail to Mehul Choksi in illegal entry case
India said it was making all efforts to bring back Mehul Choksi. “He (Choksi) is currently in the custody of Dominica with some legal proceedings underway. We will continue to make all efforts to ensure he is brought to back India,” foreign ministry spokesperson Arindam Bagchi told reporters. “Let me emphasise that India remains steadfast in its efforts to ensure that fugitives are brought back to India to face justice,” Bagchi added.
This is the first time the Indian government has officially commented on the issue since Choksi disappeared from Antigua, where he has been living since 2018 after acquiring its citizenship, and was found three days later in Dominica.
India-born Choksi faces two separate legal proceedings in Dominica. A magistrate’s court in the Dominican capital Roseau is hearing the government’s charge that the businessman entered the country illegally. And, Choksi’s lawyers have moved the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court, alleging that he was abducted and asking him to be sent back to Antigua.
Choksi’s lawyers have said their client was kidnapped, beaten, and unwillingly brought to Dominica.