The Dominica police has charged India's fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi for "entering the country illegally", a report claimed on May 28. Choksi's counsel had, a day earlier, alleged that he was "abducted" and brought to the Caribbean nation from neighbouring Antigua and Barbuda.
The Antigua Newsroom, which was also among the first to report his arrest on May 25, stated in its report that it could "confirm" that Choksi has been charged with illegal entry into Dominica.
The Dominican government, in a statement issued on May 27, said that Choksi would be repatriated to Antigua after details related to his citizenship in the neighbouring country is verified.
Hours later, the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court in the High Court of Justice Commonwealth of Dominica restrained the Dominican government from extraditing Choksi and asked the police to allow him to meet his legal counsel.
The court stopped Choksi's removal from the country after his lawyers filed a habeas corpus petition stating they were allegedly not given access to him.
Under a habeas corpus petition, an arrested person has to be brought before a judge, especially to secure the person's release "unless lawful grounds are shown for their detention".
Wayne Marsh, Choksi's lawyer in Dominica, had told a radio show that in a brief interaction with Choksi - allowed by authorities after a lot of efforts - the diamantaire told him 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 claimed that he saw marks on the body of Choksi who had "swollen eyes" and "feared for his life".
Choksi's Indian lawyer Vijay Aggarwal called the entire episode of his mysterious disappearance and detention in Dominica "fishy".
Meanwhile, Gaston Browne, the Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, had asked Dominica to send him back directly to India saying "Antigua will not accept Choksi back".
Choksi, along with his nephew Nirav Modi, is one of the main accused in the loan scam that defrauded the state-run Punjab National Bank (PNB) of Rs 13,500 crore. He escaped India in early 2018, days before the financial scandal came to light.
Since fleeing from India, he has been staying in Antigua and Barbuda. The citizenship of the island-nation was issued to him in 2017 through an investment programme.
The arrest of Choksi in Dominica fueled speculations related to his likely extradition to India.The Extradition Act, 1962 (the Extradition Act) governs the extradition of a fugitive from India to a foreign country. India has signed extradition agreements with 47 nations but Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica don’t figure in the list. However, India has separate special extradition arrangements with 11 nations, one including Antigua. Signed in 2001, this has been invoked by the government since 2018 to bring Choksi back.