Extradition from UK: Unfazed Vijay Mallya insists charges ‘fabricated’
Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot of the Westminster Magistrates Court said the extradition trial of businessman Vijay Mallya will begin at 10 am (UK time) on December 4.Updated: Nov 21, 2017 19:28 IST
Insisting that Indian allegations of multi-crore financial irregularities were “baseless and fabricated”, controversial businessman Vijay Mallya on Monday exuded confidence that he would win the extradition case that is set to begin in a London court on December 4.
At least four experts in different fields – including Scottish jails expert Alan Mitchell – have been lined up as witnesses on Mallya’s behalf. Mitchell’s evidence on allegedly inhuman treatment and torture in Indian jails was most recently crucial in blocking the extradition of Sanjeev Kumar Chawla, wanted in India for his role in alleged cricket match-fixing.
A smiling Mallya told journalists while leaving the Westminster Magistrates Court that all issues would be clear during the trial, and refused to comment on specific allegations. He asked them to attend the high-profile trial that has become a test for India’s ability to present evidence and a case that holds up in a British court (none of the previous Indian extradition requests succeeded).
When asked why he didn’t return home to fight the charges, the 61-year-old Mallya said, “That’s none of your business.”
Watch: Vijay Mallya calls himself a political victim (Video by SNTV)
Monday’s last “case management hearing” saw chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot going over procedural matters, including the running order of witnesses who will take the stand. The main extradition trial is scheduled to begin at 10 am (UK time) on December 4, and last eight days.
A spokesperson of the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which is representing India in the case, told Hindustan Times: “All orders complied with up to now, with the (Indian) government’s skeleton argument to be served next Monday, the extradition hearing remains fixed for 4 December, 10am.
“Following judgement, both sides can apply to the high court for permission to appeal.”
Arbuthnot told Mallya in the court that his bail conditions will remain until the trial begins, and asked him to appear in the court at 9.30 am on December 4.
Mallya, who arrived here from India in March 2016, was first arrested and bailed on April 18, and again on October 3, when further money laundering charges were added to the earlier ones.
CPS lawyer Arron Watkins told the court that a “revised position statement” sent by the Indian government had been submitted, and noted that the defence had served additional material last Friday.
Besides Mitchell, Mallya’s list of witnesses includes Margaret Sweeney of Force India F1 team, aviation expert B Humphreys and experts on Indian law and politics.
In Mallya’s case (number 1700934281), the Indian government has assured the court through the CPS that he will not face any threat to his life if extradited and held in barrack number 12 of the Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai. Detailed material has been submitted on conditions in the jail.
In Chawla’s case, decided on October 16, a series of reports by human rights organisations on prison conditions and some Indian court rulings were mentioned in the detailed judgement, including the allegation of “torture or inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment”.
Prison conditions were also one of four issues in the case of Jatinder Angurala and Asha Rani Angurala, wanted in India for allegations of fraud, but the judge ruled against their extradition on the ground of “passage of time” (the case dated back to 1990)..