Mumbai: Antigua and Barbuda Government reiterated its commitment to send fugitive diamantaire, Mehul Choksi, back to India even as mystery continues to surround over the identity of the woman who had allegedly lured him there.
“My administration stands by its request for Dominica to extradite Choksi directly back to India where he is still a citizen. Instead of subjecting himself to an enquiry as required by law, he used the courts to stay the revocation of his citizenship,” Antigua and Barbuda Prime Minister Geston Browne told media on Tuesday night (IST).
“Choksi changed his lawyer to a well-known member of the UPP; former attorney general under the UPP, Justin Simon. We have it on reliable authority that the UPP had promised Choksi protection, for campaign funding,” the PM said, mounting attack on the opposition United Progressive Party.
“That is why they are so vehement, that he should not be deported from Dominica to India, but back to Antigua where he could continue to hide behind the constitutional protections of citizenship.”
It is to be mentioned that on October 14, 2019, the Antigua Government revoked the citizenship of Choksi. As per an order, the revocation of the citizenship was reportedly affected on the grounds of “Wilful concealment of material facts and/or false representation to support your application for Citizenship of Antigua and Barbuda.”
Browne, however, dismissed the suggestion that sending Choksi back to India from Dominica will be a violation of his rights.
“The claim that my request for the government of Dominica to deport him directly to India is in violation of Choksi’s constitutional rights, is preposterous. Choksi enjoys no such right in Dominica as an illegal alien and since he is not within the jurisdiction of Antigua & Barbuda, we have no jurisdiction over him and therefore could not violate his constitutional rights by asking for his direct deportation to India to face charges against him,” the Prime Minister explained, claiming, “my administration has acted always with probity and we continue to cooperate with the governments of India and Dominica, to have him deported directly to India.”
Meanwhile, there are different theories about the mystery woman who was seen with Choksi. One claim is that she honey-trapped Choksi. Whereas, another version presents her as an active member of the abduction team that “ferried Choksi to Dominica.”
There are even claims that she is an Indian agent. Asked about intelligence on the mystery woman, Browne said his government has no knowledge about her.
“I don’t know anything about the woman who ostensibly was with him. Choksi claimed she lured him into abduction at her home,” he said.
On the other hand, Choksi’s Antiga-based lawyer Justin Simon, later in the night, said he was not aware of any relationship between the Indian diamantaire and UPP.
“I was appointed Attorney General under the UPP administration and served for 10 years from April 2004. I continue to support the Party but I am not an Executive or a Constituency Branch member. I am unaware of any relationship between Mr Choksi and the UPP or of any monetary donation by Mr Choksi as the PM claims, nor has there been any promise of protection.”
“The UPP has simply stated that the judicial process should be allowed to continue and that the government should respect his legal and constitutional rights. In my view, the PM’s rash statements undermine the rule of law, and shows absolutely no regard for the judicial process. It was under his administration that Mr Choksi obtained citizenship.
“Should I now question the legitimacy of that grant now that it has been made public that during the application process, Mr Choksi was under investigation in India? The PM’s glibness of tongue in this serious matter is cause for speculation and much concern,” Simmon said in a statement to media.