Dominica High Court Judge Justice Bernie Stephenson-Brooks on Friday issued a gag order restricting all attorneys involved in the Mehul Choksi case from making any public statements on the fugitive and any developments of the case.
The case continued in court however the matter was dealt with in the Chambers without any access to media or the public.
Subsequently, journalists present in the court attempted to speak to Choksi’s attorneys but were told that due to the gag order issued by the judge, no information or updates could be provided.
Earlier, the Dominica High Court had again restrained Choksi’s extradition in continuation with its earlier order. The court has also ruled that Choksi would be allowed to meet his legal counsels and taken for Covid-19 testing at the Dominica-China friendship hospital and sent to a government quarantine centre.
Lawyers claim to have photographs of injured Choksi
Antigua-based attorney of Mehul Choksi Justin Simon has, meanwhile, claimed that Choksi was beaten after he was allegedly abducted and a case of illegal entry was lodged by Dominica Police only after the court restrained his repatriation on Thursday.
“We have pictures showing his face which is battered, one of his eyes is swollen and his arm injured. It was simply a physical altercation between himself and whoever. And what he had indicated is that he was beaten, he was roughed up, his jewellery and watch was taken, whatever money he had was taken away from him and he was told that he is going to Dominica so that he can be sent over to India”, Simon told local media in Antigua.
CNN-News18 reached out to Queen’s Counsel Simon for a comment requesting the photographs. His response is awaited.
Antigua Police rubbish abduction story
Meanwhile, Antigua Police Commissioner Atlee Rodney has rubbished the abduction story. Choksi’s attorney Wayne Marsh had claimed that Choksi was abducted by some people who looked like Indians along with Antigua Police. Commissioner Rodney further said that he had no information on Choksi being forcefully removed from Jolly Harbour in Antigua.
#BREAKING: Antigua Police Commissioner Atlee Rodney rubbishes Mehul Choksi abduction theory. ‘We have no information on Mehul Choksi being forcefully removed. Assertions made by Choksi attorney without any evidence or proof. Even Dominica Police hasn’t believed in such story’. pic.twitter.com/8HrY8FqTSm— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) May 28, 2021
‘The assertions made by Choksi’s attorney are without any evidence or proof. Even Dominica Police hasn’t believed in such an abduction theory. Antigua Police is not involved in his movement. Choksi used a boat to travel to Dominica’, Commissioner Rodney said while interacting with local media in Antigua.
Antigua politics heats up over Choksi
Antigua’s opposition - United Progressive Party - expressed serious concern over the recent statement of Prime Minister Gaston Browne where he indicated that Dominica should directly deport Choksi to India and not return him to Antigua and Barbuda.
“The statement is both irresponsible and frightening. It is not for the prime minister to decide who is entitled to the protection of the constitution. We are a nation of laws: Every citizen of Antigua and Barbuda is entitled to due process and the rule of law must be respected by all”, the statement read.
“The alleged abduction and beating of Mr Mehul Choksi already paint an unflattering picture of the country, and Prime Minister Browne’s deliberate attempt to subvert and corrupt the rule of law makes us look even worse”, the statement further said.
Choksi has been placed in a government quarantine facility and the matter will now come up for hearing on June 2.
(Aditya Raj Kaul is Contributing Editor, News18 group with more than a decade-long experience covering Conflict, Foreign Policy, and Internal Security. He can be reached at Aditya.Kaul@nw18.com)