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Law

Dominica Drops Charges of Illegal Entry Against Mehul Choksi

The fugitive jeweller was arrested by the Dominican authorities on May 24 last year for illegal entry.

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New Delhi: The Dominican government has dropped all charges of illegal entry against fugitive jeweller Mehul Choksi a year after he was arrested there, according to the Deccan Herald.

Choksi, who has been accused in Rs 13,000 crore Punjab National Bank fraud case and fled India in 2017, was arrested by the Dominican authorities on May 24 last year for illegal entry into the country. He secured bail on medical grounds in July last year following which he moved to Antigua and Barbuda, where he has been living since.

“Choksi is pleased that the Dominican government dropped all charges against him for unlawful entry in May 2021. By doing so, they now recognise that there was never any case against him. Choksi was forcibly removed from Antigua against his will by agents of the Indian state, viciously assaulted and taken to authorities for an offence he never committed. Choksi’s legal team continues to pursue all avenues for justice to redress the human rights violations committed against him,” said Choksi’s spokesperson.

“Truth always comes out in the end, no matter how hard anyone tries to stop it or hide it. Lies are just temporary delays to the inevitable. It was extremely insensitive for some people to call injuries on my client Mehul Choksi to be fake because of some legal strategy,” a Deccan Herald report quoted Choksi’s lawyer in India, Vijay Aggarwal, as saying.

Also read: Choksi Kidnap Case: Antigua Police Report Backs Fugitive Diamantaire’s Abduction Claims

The family and lawyers of fugitive diamantaire have accused the Indian government of “plotting” to bring him back to India in violation of all legal procedures. They have also alleged that Indian agents had kidnapped him on May 23, 2021, by trapping him through a Hungarian woman, identified as Babara Jarabic. Following this, he was allegedly forcibly put on a yacht and shifted to Dominica by two Indians, Gurmit Singh and Gurjeet Bhandal. According to his lawyers, Choksi was threatened on his way to Dominica and asked to sign a consent form to be repatriated to India of his own will.

Once in Dominica, Choksi was granted bail on medical grounds by a court, allowing him to go back to Antigua as Dominica did not have the necessary facilities for adequate medical care. On May 24, 2021, Choksi then flew out of Dominica in an air ambulance and was received in Antigua by officials of the foreign office there. It had turned out to be a huge setback for Indian authorities who moved a court in Dominica to repatriate Choksi to India.

Granting bail, the Dominican high court had asked him to return to Dominica following his treatment and released him upon serving a bond of 10,000 Eastern Caribbean Dollars. However, a source close to his family, according to Indian Express, had said, “He is very unwell. His treatment may take a long time.”

His lawyer in London, Michael Polak, had said that it was done to “deprive him of the protection of the law that he enjoys in Antigua and Barbuda as a citizen of the country”.

While Choksi has been maintaining that he is not an Indian citizen since he secured Antiguan citizenship in 2017, India has been arguing that he is indeed an Indian citizen.