Indian fugitive diamantaire Mehul Choksi, who is currently facing the charges of entering Dominica illegally, was “unlawfully renditioned” from Antigua and Barbuda to Dominica so that he would no longer have the option of appealing to the UK Privy Council, his lawyer contended on Thursday.
Michael Polak, part of the legal team representing Choksi and an expert in providing legal assistance to foreign nationals around the world, told a virtual news conference that the team has also filed a complaint with the War Crimes Unit of UK’s Metropolitan Police on the ground that Choksi was tortured.
Describing Choksi’s case as one of “egregious breach of the rule of law and fundamental fairness”, Polak said, “What has happened to Choksi has been terrible. He was lured into a property, kidnapped, a bag placed over his head, beaten, forced on to a boat and unlawfully renditioned into another country.”
“In Antigua, he has the right to appeal to the Privy Council in London to determine whether the government is acting properly…against him. In Dominica, he does not have such protection. The motive behind the kidnapping could not be clearer,” he said.
He further claimed that there was sufficient proof that Barbara Jarabica and the other men involved in the incident had carried out a “reconnaissance or a failed attempt to kidnap” Choksi in April 2021 and said that Choksi should be returned to Antigua.
Giving details of the abduction attempt, Polak said Jabarica, who lured Choksi to her AirBNB accommodation on May 23, had specifically asked the owner if there is a place for docking a small boat in the backyard.
Showing chats between Jabarica and owner of the properties, Polak said she had discussed taking two adjoining properties after getting confirmation about docking place for boats.
Polak alleged that one property was used by people with her, who were part of kidnapping team.
The lawyer also claimed that soon after the kidnapping of Choksi, Jabarica left Antigua and Barbuda in a private plane to Dominica at 7.26 pm as she felt safe from investigation.
Polak also contended that Choksi continues to be an Antiguan citizen and can appeal against any move to strip him of his citizenship or to extradite him to India in the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
He also said that the diamantaire would not have access to this legal protection in Dominica.
A complaint filed by Polak with the UK Metropolitan Police contended that Choksi’s case should be investigated by the War Crimes Unit as it involves “torture”.
“The War Crimes Unit of the Metropolitan Police investigates war crimes, torture and genocide wherever it takes place,” the lawyer said.
The Metropolitan Police and Crown Prosecution Service will have the final say in an investigation.
According to Polak’s complaint filed with the Metropolitan Police on June 7, Choksi was allegedly lured by Jarabica and then attacked and taken by force by several men to Dominica in a boat. The complaint has also pointed out that Jarabica and three men allegedly involved in the incident – St Kitts and Nevis national Gurdip Bath, Gurmit Singh and Gurjit Singh Bhandal – are all residents of the UK.
“The process is with Metropolitan police and we will let them carry out their investigations. We say in this case there is evidence of torture,” he said.
IANS was first to report report names of Singh and Bhandal on June 4.
Choksi, who is wanted in Ondianin Rs 13,500 crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud case had gone missing on May 23 from Antigua sparking a massive manhunt. He was reportedly captured on May 26 in Dominica.
Choksi is facing the charges of entering Dominica illegally. A Dominican High Court has restrained the extradition of Choksi.
The diamantaire is wanted in India by the CBI and the Enforcement Directorate in Rs 13,500 crore case. He had taken the citizenship of Antigua in 2017 and left India on January 4, 2018 days before the case came to light.