Mehul Choksi row lights up a political firestorm in Antigua, PM Browne hits back
- The UPP earlier in the day accused Browne of ‘corrupting the rule of law’ referring to Browne’s request to the Dominican authorities to send Choksi to India directly and not repatriate him to Antigua and Barbados.
Antigua and Barbuda prime minister Gaston Browne on Saturday hit back at opposition party United Progressive Party (UPP) and accused it of supporting fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi in order to secure campaign funding.
“After mischievously accusing my administration of harbouring Mehul Choksi, who has an Interpol Red Notice, they are now seeking to sanitize this fugitive to get campaign funding. My administration’s revocation of Choksi’s citizenship has been frustrated by a litigation brought against the state,” Gaston Browne said according to reports in Antiguan media.
“We are determined to revoke Choksi’s citizenship and to concurrently pursue his extradition to India to face criminal charges there. There has been no violation of Choksi’s legal and constitutional protections, despite the decision of my administration to revoke his citizenship,” Browne further added. Browne last week said that if Choksi flees the country his citizenship will be revoked. Choksi was reported missing on May 25 after he went to the southern side of the island for dining at a restaurant.
The UPP earlier in the day accused Browne of ‘corrupting the rule of law’ referring to Browne’s request to the Dominican authorities to send Choksi to India directly and not repatriate him to Antigua and Barbados. “It was the Gaston Browne administration that granted citizenship to Mr. Choksi. As inconvenient and embarrassing as it may be for the government, Mr. Choksi is a citizen of Antigua and Barbuda – not India,” the UPP said according to a report by news agency Antigua News Room.
Choksi, who is currently in Dominica, claimed that he was abducted and taken to the island by force. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court said that it will hear a habeas corpus petition filed by Choksi’s lawyers Wayne Marsh and Vijay Aggarwal last week denting India’s hopes of extraditing Choksi, who is wanted in a ₹13,500 crore loan fraud case.