India’s High Commissioner to Port of Spain, Arun Kumar Sahu is likely to travel to Dominica next week to seek formal extradition of Mehul Choksi and initiate a dialogue with Dominica Government, sources have told CNN-News18.
Dominica Government through diplomatic channels had earlier officially contacted High Commissioner Sahu to inform about the arrest of Choksi.
The fugitive businessman remains in the custody of the Dominica Police Criminal Investigation Department (CID) even after a local court in Dominica put a stay on his repatriation. The court is likely to hear the matter on Friday at 9 am local time in Dominica.
Meanwhile, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the High Court of Justice Commonwealth of Dominica has restrained Dominica Government from extradition of Mehul Choksi and asked Police to allow him to meet his legal counsel. The matter will now be heard on May 28 at 9 am local time.
Justice M E Birnie Stephenson pronounced the order.
The attorney of Mehul Choksi, Wayne Marsh, however, has alleged that the Police has not allowed him to meet his client Choksi even after repeated attempts.
“We were denied access to our client and on May 27, 2021. At about 7:30 am I was finally given access to speak to him and noticed that he was severely beaten, his eyes swollen, and had several burnt marks on his body. He reported to me that he was abducted at Jolly Harbour in Antigua and brought to Dominica by persons whom he believes to be Indian and Antiguan police on a vessel he describes to be about 60-70 feet in length and arrived on Sunday in a local he is not familiar with and the following day Monday he was taken by the Coast Guard Police to a location in Roseau”, Marsh told a local news agency in Dominica.
Earlier a battery of lawyers comprising Wayne Norde, Wayne Marsh, Cara Shillingford-Marsh, and Julian Prevost had petitioned the court and obtained an Order in the High Court in Roseau to stop the Chief Immigration Officer from repatriating Indian-born fugitive Mehul Choksi from Dominica.
In a late evening statement on May 27 confirming Choksi’s arrest, Dominica’s Home Ministry said, “The Ministry of National Security and Home Affairs confirms that Mr. Mehul Choksi, citizen of India and who is wanted by the Indian Authorities has been detained by law enforcement for illegal entry into Dominica.”
“The Ministry of National Security and Home Affairs is in communication with the authorities of Antigua and Barbuda to ascertain some facts including the status of his Antiguan Citizenship. Once the information is provided by the Antigua authorities, possible arrangements will be made for Mr. Mehul Choksi to be repatriated to Antigua”, the Ministry further said in the statement.
#BREAKING: Dominica issues statement on Mehul Choksi, says he is Indian citizen. Choksi detained for illegal entry into Dominica. Red alert issued by Interpol. Dominica in touch with authorities of Antigua, possible arrangements will be made for him to be repatriated to Antigua. pic.twitter.com/9FkqIFuHD2— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) May 27, 2021
Top officials in the Central government told CNN-News18 that India is in touch with both the governments in Domnica and Antigua after the arrest of Mehul Choksi.
“India’s interest to get Choksi back remains as strong as before. We have to see how fast we can get him back. If the change of country leads to fastening the process of extradition, that will be great. CBI and ED as nodal agencies in the case are monitoring the situation closely. Communication between India and Dominica continues”, said officials on grounds of anonymity.
Sources within India’s national security apparatus have indicated that capture of fugitive Mehul Choksi in Dominica is a significant development in which Indian security agencies have played a significant role with the help of international partners.
India welcomes the arrest of fugitive Mehul Choksi in Dominica. Top Govt Sources tell me, India will try to bring Mehul Choksi to India soon. Indian Agencies played a significant role in arrest of Choksi in Dominica. India sees it as a big catch. pic.twitter.com/wcGGt3f7g6
— Aditya Raj Kaul (@AdityaRajKaul) May 27, 2021
Aditya Raj Kaul is Contributing Editor, News18 group with more than a decade long experience in covering Conflict, Foreign Policy, and Internal Security. He can be reached at Aditya.Kaul@nw18.com