Local Lawyer: "To remove Choksi at the hospital and place him at the prison would be a death sentence"
An order by Magistrate Pearl Williams to have alleged Indian fugitive Mehul Choksi removed from the Dominica China Friendship Hospital (DCFH) to the Dominica State Prison has been labeled as a "death sentence," for Choksi by his attorneys. Luckily the order was not carried out.
Choksi who pleaded not guilty to illegal entry into Dominica was remanded into police custody at the Dominica China Friendship Hospital (DCFH) where he has been a patient since May 29, 2021.
On June 2, 2021, at Choksi's first court appearance where the charge was read to him, the acting Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Sherma Dalrymple made an application made before Chief Magistrate Candia Carrette George pursuant to section 212 of the Magistrate Code of Procedure to have the prisoner brought before a Magistrate every three days to be further remanded until he is discharged from the hospital.
This application came under review by Magistrate Williams on June 11, however she reserved her ruling as a bail application for Choksi was being heard in the High Court on the same day.
Nevertheless, on June 17, when the 62-year-old diamantaire was expected to appear before the court for reporting and further remand, his attorneys presented a medical report to the court which indicated that his health condition has deteriorated and Choksi was unable to attend due to his ailment.
However, Magistrate Williams ordered that Choksi be remanded at the State Prison as she stated, based on the law, she does not have the jurisdiction to remand the accused to the hospital every three days.
Unsatisfied with the Magistrate's decision, three of Choksi's attorneys who were present in court – Julien Prevost, Zena Moore-Dyer, and Gina Dyer-Munro– objected claiming that their client is now in a bad state and the decision to remand him to the state prison is appalling as Choksi is bleeding in the head among some of his conditions.
The attorneys argued that there must be a certain level of "humanity" in how the court operates and everyone should be treated fairly.
Despite the heated argument in court, Magistrate Williams stood resolute on her decision and said her Order will stand. She said arrangements will be made for the court to visit the hospital for Choksi to be remanded at the prison.
Attorneys for Choksi said they will go to the High Court to prevent the Order. However, The SUN has since been informed that Choksi was not moved; however, he is no longer in police custody but prison custody.
Speaking to The SUN, one attorney stated, "his health is seriously deteriorating and he needs all the medical attention that he can get. To remove him from the hospital to the prison where he cannot get the medical attention he requires would have been the death of Mr. Choksi."
During his stay at the hospital, Choksi will be guarded by a prison guard instead of a police officer as was the case earlier.
The Magistrate remanded Choksi until June 24, where he is expected to appear before the court to be further remanded whilst his trial for illegal entry is expected to commence on June 25, 2021.
The High Court has adjourned the Habeas Corpus matter sine die.
The 62-year-old diamond tycoon who gained citizenship in Antigua and Barbuda is wanted by the Indian judicial authorities for allegedly cheating the Punjab National Bank of over two billion US dollars, one of India's largest bank frauds in decades.