London: An interim report by Antigua police into the abduction of fugitive Indian-born diamond dealer Mehul Choksi – kept secret for 11 months – is no longer a secret. He was reportedly before a court in Dominica, which is expected to issue final orders as early as Friday on the case of the alleged illegal entry of Choksi, an Antiguan citizen, into the neighboring Caribbean island state.
The police report states: ‘The further this investigation progresses, the more the facts align with Mr. Choksi’s version of the events leading up to his appearance in the state of Dominica.’
He goes on to say, “The plethora of real and circumstantial evidence clearly shows that there is a case of kidnapping with broad collusion between multiple conspirators.”
The report names five suspects; two of them – a man of Indian origin and a Hungarian – he ranks “at the top of the list of suspects”.
The report – which was submitted to the government of Antigua and Barbuda – in its recommendations asked the country’s authorities for permission to obtain a warrant against the Hungarian woman “for conspiracy to kidnap”.
He also wants Interpol to be asked “to identify the location and possible return” of the five suspects to Antigua “for questioning.” The green light has not yet been given by the government of Prime Minister Gaston Browne.
When asked if he was aware of the matter at hand, Dominica’s Opposition Leader Lennox Linton replied: “So I understand.” He had publicly stated – when the criminal case against Choksi was opened in July 2021 – that the relevant judge should end it and release the accused.
Radio presenter and journalist Loftus Durand – who uncovered the story of Choksi’s clandestine arrest and detention in Dominica, forcing the island state’s court to intervene and thwart the alleged rendition plan for Choksi in India – told this reporter, “I’m hearing from the grapevine that the state (of Dominica) is basically trying to get this over with. So I won’t be surprised if the prosecutor simply decides that he’s no longer interested in pursuing the case.
Choksi and her family have chosen not to comment on the ongoing legal process. Choksi was released on bail in July 2021 and returned home to Antigua.
The 19-page Antigua Police report dated June 25, 2021 confirms claims made by Choksi and his wife Priti at the time of Choksi’s disappearance from Antigua on May 25, 2021. It also virtually nullifies the complaint filed by the lawyer Michael Polak in the case on behalf of Choksi to the Metropolitan Police in London, or Scotland Yard, and the National Crime Agency in Britain, as the suspects were apparently all based in the UK.
The questions that remain unanswered are the motive for the alleged crime and whether the kidnappers were acting alone or had a larger entity behind them. This can only be clarified by further investigation, either by Antigua police or British investigators, or both. Choksi himself alleged, according to Antigua Observerthat the people who abducted him were “agents of the Indian government”, a charge denied by New Delhi.
The Antigua police report, a copy of which is in the possession of this reporter, is based on investigations into hotel and villa bookings and car rentals made by those suspected of kidnapping and torturing Choksi, as well as evidence gathered from CCTV recordings of the movements. suspects on the island, records of taxis hired while in the country, and the tracking of two yachts that were allegedly used to transport Choksi from Antigua to Dominica.
About the man of Indian origin listed as the top suspect, the police report states that he checked into the Cocobay hotel and “first reported that he was alone, but hotel staff said they later saw him in the company of a woman.” – identified as the other main suspect.
“At 7:43 p.m.” on May 23, 2021 – the day Choksi went missing – the report says the two prime suspects and one other – a Briton from Essex in England – “departed Antigua on an Executive Air charter flight (8P-EAL ) and traveled to Dominica.” Documentary evidence to support this is included in the report.
The report suggests a yacht named Calliope d’ArnIt was the main boat carrying Choksi from Antiguan waters to Dominica – a distance of 188 kilometers. It says:
“On 5/23/21 Calliope d’Arne cleared immigration at 09:20 but never left because later that afternoon a yachtsman reported seeing about three or four ‘bad guys’ on board the Calliope d’Arne still anchored in the port. Around 5 p.m., he saw the mast slowly hoist itself, which aroused his suspicions. After hoisting the mast, the boat sailed further and began tracking north to south and south to north continuously until nightfall, when it was no longer visible. The witness reports that he did not see the ship the next day or since.
The police report noted that when the yacht cleared immigration, it listed two suspects of Indian origin “as passengers”. One was a British citizen; the other an Indian national. Both, according to their papers, were from Birmingham in England.
The Antigua police report recorded:
“On May 27, 2021, Mrs. Choksi spoke to her husband by phone in Dominica and according to her, he reported that he had been lured to meet (the Hungarian suspect) at villa #407F on North Finger in Jolly Harbor (in Antigua) with the intention of going to dinner. On his arrival at the Villa, he was attacked by about ten men of Indian and local origin. A hood was placed on his head after being tied to wheelchair and gagged and had his phone and jewelery taken from him, he was then beaten, tasered and tortured before being taken to a small boat moored at the back of the villa and taken where he was transferred to Calliope d’Arne. He was continuously tortured and electrocuted (sic) throughout the journey that took her to Dominica on Monday 24 May 2021. Upon arrival at Portsmouth Harbor [in Dominica], a Coast Guard vessel arrived and he was taken ashore where high-ranking police officers were waiting who arrested him. He was accused of entering the country illegally.
The report then reveals: “On Tuesday, June 1, 2021, inquiries led investigators to Villa #407F (Jolly Harbour) which was rented by (the Hungarian suspect) from May 18-24, 2021. Upon arrival, the villa was unoccupied and a forensic search was discovered. small blood splatters and stains on the living room floor and dining table, and a broken ceramic ornament on the floor indicating a possible struggle. The Hungarian suspect’s travel itinerary has also been found.