Days after fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi was found and arrested in Dominica, his first picture has surfaced showing him behind bars with several injury marks.
The photo was released by a local media two days after the fugitive diamantaire’s lawyer Vijay Aggarwal raised doubts about the way Choksi had gone missing from Antigua and Barbuda only to be detained in Dominica, about 100 nautical miles away, for illegal entry.
Choksi's lawyer in Dominica, Wayne Marsh, had told a radio show that in a brief interaction with his client, allowed by authorities after a lot of efforts, the diamantaire had claimed that he was picked up at Jolly Harbour in Antigua and Barbuda by men looking like Indian and Antiguan policemen and was put in a vessel.
Marsh had said he saw marks on the body of Choksi who had swollen eyes and feared for his life.
"Lawyers for Choksi in Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica have been trying to have a legal interview with him as per his constitutional rights but they were denied access to him. After great effort they were able to speak to Choksi for two minutes during which he narrated a horrifying experience which is an eye-opener and vindicates my stand that he would not have gone from Antigua voluntarily," Aggarwal said.
Choksi is wanted in India in connection with a Rs 13,500-crore loan fraud in Punjab National Bank (PNB). He had been living in Antigua and Barbuda for the last three years after fleeing India before the fraud came to light. He is one of the main defendants in the case.
PNB alleged in 2018 that a few rogue employees had issued fake bank guarantees over several years to help jewellery groups controlled by Modi and Choksi to raise funds in foreign credit.
After Choksi was detained, Antigua refused to take him back and Prime Minister Gaston Browne told Reuters partner ANI that the country was in talks with the Dominican as well as Indian governments for his repatriation to India.
However, a Dominican court has restrained local authorities from removing Choksi from the country, throwing up another hurdle to India's attempts to have him brought home and tried in India's largest bank fraud case.(With inputs from agencies)