New Delhi: In a development that is likely to strengthen the case of India in its chase for the fugitive trader, the Dominican government on Thursday declared diamantaire Mehul Choksi as a "prohibited immigrant" in their country.
An order issued by the Ministry of National Security and Home Affairs on May 25 stated that Choksi was declared a prohibited immigrant on May 25. The ministry also directed the police to "remove him from the Commonwealth of Dominica" in keeping with the procedure laid out in Section 5(1) (1) of the Immigration and Passport Act.
According to the Hindustan Times, the ministry also sent a separate notice to Choksi on the same day, informing the businessman that he is "not permitted to enter Dominica". The notice further said that the police have been instructed "to take all the necessary actions to have you repatriated".
This counters the claim of his lawyer Vijay Aggarwal who said last week that Choksi did not enter Dominica illegally and the police there cannot arrest him as he is not a "prohibited immigrant".
Meanwhile, Dominica Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit termed Choksi as an "Indian citizen" and stated that the courts will decide what happens to the fugitive, Antigua News Room reported on Wednesday.
According to the Caribbean news outlet, Skerrit also added that the government will protect the rights of Choksi as he awaits trial.
Currently, Choksi has got interim relief from immediate repatriation to India by the Dominican court, which adjourned the matter of his detention.
Choksi had gone missing on May 23 from Antigua and Barbuda sparking a massive manhunt. He was reportedly captured in Dominica on May 26.
Earlier, Choksi had appeared before a local magistrate in Dominica and pleaded not guilty of entering Dominica illegally.
However, Choksi's lawyers had alleged that he was abducted from Antigua by policemen looking like Antiguan and Indian, and brought to Dominica on a boat forcibly.
The latest development is a setback for Choksi as it counters the abduction theory.
Choksi is wanted in the Rs 13,500 crore PNB scam in India. He fled the country in January 2018, just days before his name was to surface in the bank fraud, and settled in Antigua.