Eleven months after fugitive businessman Mehul Choksi disappeared from Antigua and Barbuda and mysteriously surfaced in Dominica, Choksi has dropped ‘illegal entry’ charges against the diamond dealer based on the investigation report by the Royal Antigua Police which suggests it was a case of kidnapping.
At least two people familiar with the developments confirmed to HT the developments in Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda.
The decision to withdraw the charges was forwarded by Dominica’s Director of Public Prosecutions, Sherma Dalryple, to the Roseau Magistrate’s Court.
After disappearing on May 23, 2021 from Antigua, of which he is a citizen, and found in Dominica the following day, Choksi and his legal team alleged that he had been abducted by Indian agents, tortured and brought to Dominica in a ship. He named a Hungarian Barbara Jarabik and two British citizens – Gurmit Singh and Gurjit Singh Bhandal – among 7-8 people who kidnapped him and took him to Dominica. All three have denied the allegations.
The Indian government sent a team of investigators to Dominica on May 28 in hopes of securing his deportation from the island, where he was not a citizen, but Choksi filed a habeas corpus petition with the high court. Dominica court alleging kidnapping and torture.
Prosecutors representing India filed a formal request in Dominica in the first week of June 2021, alleging that Choksi was the mastermind of a ₹13,578 crore fraudulent and due loan ₹7,080 crores ($952 million). He sought to declare him an Indian citizen and deport him to India.
After remaining in Dominica for 52 days amidst a highly charged legal process, the Dominica High Court of Justice returned him to Antigua.
His capture has sparked a political storm in the Caribbean, with opposition parties accusing the governments of Dominica and Antigua and Barbuda of colluding with India to kidnap the businessman.
The Royal Antigua Police have launched an investigation into the abductions in the case based on the complaint by Choksi’s lawyers, which a person familiar with the developments said was recently completed.
A 19-page investigative report, which was completed last year, was recently filed with the Dominica court, a copy of which was also sent to the two Caribbean island governments, on the basis of which the Dominican prosecutors decided to withdraw the illegal entry Case.
The content of Antigua Royal’s report has been confirmed to HT by at least two people.
It mirrors Choksi’s allegations and seeks to track down five suspects who were behind it, according to one of the people, who added that the report also recommends seeking Interpol’s help in identifying the suspects. The report cites hotels, villa bookings, car rentals by the suspects and CCTV footage to back up its claims.
After returning to Dominica, Choksi said he was “seriously considering” returning to India to prove his innocence until his abduction, but now he was “extremely worried about his safety in India”.
“I am back home but this torture left permanent scars on my psychology and physically, rather permanent scars on my soul. I never could have imagined that after closing all my business and seizing all my properties, a kidnapping attempt would be made against me by the Indian agencies. I always heard about them but never believed they could go this far,” Choksi told HT in an audio message in July 2021.
Choksi’s lawyer, Vijay Aggarwal, said on Friday: “Three things cannot be long hidden, the sun, the moon and the truth. Now he should shut his mouth to those who said this kidnapping and wounding was fake and a legal strategy. Their silence is now music to my ears.