It was another day filled with drama and heated exchanges from the prosecution led by Lennox Lawrence and the defense team led by experienced lawyer Zena Moore Dyer as the Mehul Choksi case of alleged “illegal entry into Dominica” took center stage at the magistrate’s court before Chief Magistrate Candia Carette-George.
Choksi, the Indian fugitive who holds Antiguan citizenship through the Citizen by Investment Programme (CBI) is wanted in India for an alleged US two billion dollars bank fraud.
He is charged with illegally entering Dominica on May 23 and has pleaded “not guilty” to the charge stating that he was kidnapped and brought to Dominica against his wishes.
In court, his lawyer Zena Dyer produced a medical certificate to the court stating that Choksi was not well and “unfit to attend court.”
She then sought permission from the court to have him taken under police protection to seek private medical attention from a “doctor of his choice.”
Immediately Lennox Lawrence for the prosecution stood up and objected stating that “Choksi is a prisoner on remand and such a request must be done at the high court and he has no constitutional right to see a doctor of his choice while on remand.”
He called the move “skillful maneuvering and a colossal abuse of the court” which ought not to be entertained.
The Chief Magistrate then summoned both parties to a meeting in her chambers and on return the jabs and bantering from both sides continued as none was prepared to give way to the other.
Dyer told the court that as a “right under the constitution,” Choksi was “entitled to medical treatment from a doctor of his choice.”
“This is a man bleeding in his head, the request deals with life, we need to have a level of humanity,” Dyer told the court.
But again Lawrence interjected prompting Dyer-Munro to seek protection from the court for his frequent interventions.
“I need the protection of the court, I will not interrupt counsel in his submissions and he needs to allow me to make my point,” she said.
In response, Lawrence told the court the magistrate was “ a creature of statue” and did not have the jurisdiction to deal with the matter.
“The court has the choice to adjourn the matter or hear it ex-parte since the defendant is absent, but we are not asking for it to be heard ex-parte. We are saying that this is not a constitutional court and if they want to make that request go to the high court and let’s argue there,” he stated.
Chief Magistrate Carette-George then stated that she is not questioning the illness of the defendant but she is not sure if she has the jurisdiction to grant the request of the defense.
“I don’t want to act outside my jurisdiction or powers, yes he has a right to a doctor of his choice, I believe he is sick but I don’t believe I have the power to grant your request. Go to the high court and I am sure that your request will be granted,” she said.
The matter was then adjourned to July 6, 2021 pending the health conditions of Choksi.