CMC-The Antigua and Barbuda government says while it is prepared to cooperate fully with the Indian authorities regarding the arrest of
Prime Minister Gaston Browne, speaking on OBSERVER Radio here, said that the authorities here will not be forced into arresting Choksi, who has received citizenship here under the Citizenship by Investment Programme (CIP), on the request of New Delhi.
Antigua and Barbuda is one of several Caribbean countries providing citizenship to foreign nationals who make a substantial investment in the socio-economic development of the islands.
Choksi, an Indian billionaire businessman, is wanted for the alleged fraud in India. He was granted Antigua and Barbuda citizenship in November 2017. The diamond tycoon is the owner of the Gitanjali Group, a retail jewellery company with 4,000 stores in India.
Browne told radio listeners that “this idea that they (India) can force us to take any decision and go against the laws and constitution of our country and one in which they are trying to force the executive to meddle in the domain of the judiciary that is something that will not be tolerated”.
He said his administration is aware that a relative of Choksi is in a similar legal situation in the United Kingdom but the Indian government has not made the same demands that they are making to the government here.
“The Antigua and Barbuda government is a sovereign government. We have already signalled our full cooperation,” Browne said, noting “having said that we remain fully committed to assisting where possible”.
He insisted that the issue “is a matter for courts and I believe the Honourable Attorney General (Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin) made it abundantly clear that the matter is now in the hands of the Director of Public Prosecution.
“We are a country of laws and we have to respect the constitutional rights of our citizens,” he added.
Meanwhile, the attorney for Choksi, Dr. David Dorsett, says his client has challenged a request for a Red-corner notice by the Indian government to the International police Organisation (INTERPOL).
““Mr Choksi has … submitted to the INTERPOL reasons why a Red-corner notice should not be issued because among other things, jail conditions in India are below international human rights standards and if he returns to India, he would be subjected to cruel and unusual punishment,” Dorsett told OBSERVER radio.
Dorsett said they are awaiting a response from INTERPOL and as far as he is aware, the international police group has not issued a Red-corner notice against his client.
He said that Choksi’s submissions to INTERPOL were made on August 17 and that his client’s strategy is to attack the legitimacy of the request by the Indian government.
A `Red-corner notice is an arrest warrant circulated by INTERPOL on behalf of the government of a particular country. It is a request from one country to another to arrest and deport the wanted individual.
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