London, September 8
Nirav Modi’s authorized group on Tuesday alleged that he’s unlikely to get a good trial in India because of the politicisation of his case and the diamond service provider faces a “high risk of suicide” because of the lack of ample medical amenities in Indian prisons.
The 49-year-old fugitive diamond service provider is combating extradition costs associated to the estimated USD 2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and cash laundering case introduced by the Indian authorities at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.
On the second day of Modi’s five-day extradition listening to, the courtroom was informed a couple of “marked decline” in his psychological well being at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London, the place stricter coronavirus curbs have meant an absence of entry to inhouse counselling amenities and really restricted contact with household, with solely 25 minutes allowed exterior his cell in July.
“He has increasingly suffered from severe depression and the latest assessment shows he is on the threshold of being subject to hospitalisation unless given proper treatment… and his fitness to plead may be in doubt here or in the requesting state (India) given a high risk of suicide,” Modi’s barrister Clare Montgomery mentioned.
She claimed that the supply of psychiatric assist in Indian prisons was “utterly inadequate”.
“The laconic assurance [of the government of India] and the prison video to say that he will be kept in humane conditions appears to be completely inadequate when one bears in mind his psychiatric condition and in addition the looming threat of COVID,” Montgomery mentioned.
During the listening to, Justice Samuel Goozee was taken via official Indian prisons information, together with statistics on coronavirus instances at Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai the place Modi is to be held if he’s extradited.
Montgomery additionally laid out her plans to depose additional skilled witnesses throughout the course of week, together with a former Indian Supreme Court decide referred to solely by his final title of Katju.
The Nirav Modi case has been made a “political issue, with no presumption made of innocence,” Montgomery informed the courtroom.
She claimed that as a result of the jeweller had been made right into a “hate figure” in India, there was an “overwhelming political necessity” to sentence him and see him convicted.
Modi’s authorized group additionally indicated plans to depose an skilled in tropical drugs in an try and counter Indian authorities claims that the COVID-19 outbreak reported at Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai in May had been introduced beneath management.
“What is claimed is improbable and the management of COVID-19 within Arthur Road Jail does not add up,” Montgomery informed the decide.
The defence arguments comply with the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) opening the second a part of the extradition trial on Monday on behalf of the Indian authorities, which targeted on establishing a prima facie case of fraud and cash laundering in opposition to Modi.
CPS barrister Helen Malcolm took Justice Goozee via detailed witness statements by so-called “dummy directors” together with Ashish Lad, who recorded a video again in June 2018 to say that his life had been threatened by Modi.
She laid out particulars of how as the main points of the fraud have been starting to emerge, the jeweller began by hiding a lot of the proof, particularly the originals of “letters of undertaking” (LoUs) from PNB, after which went on to “threaten, intimidate, cajole and bribe officials”.
“He destroyed mobiles of dummy directors and threatened one of the witnesses with death,” Malcolm informed the courtroom.
Modi, wearing a darkish swimsuit and white shirt, has been observing the courtroom proceedings remotely from a room in Wandsworth Prison and referring to bundles of paperwork laid out earlier than him every so often.
He is topic to 2 units of prison proceedings, the primary introduced by the CBI referring to a large-scale fraud mentioned to have been dedicated upon PNB and the ED case, referring to the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.
An extra extradition request was made in February this yr, licensed by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel, of two extra offences referring to allegations that Modi interfered with the CBI investigation by inflicting the disappearance of proof and intimidating a witness.
The CPS should set up a prima facie case in opposition to Modi to permit the decide to rule that he has a case to reply earlier than the Indian courts. If the decide finds a prima facie case in opposition to Modi, it’ll return to Patel to formally certify his extradition to India to face trial.
A ruling within the case is predicted on the finish of this yr after a last listening to scheduled for December 1.
Modi has made repeated makes an attempt at bail over the previous yr, every of which have been turned down as he’s deemed a flight danger. The jeweller was arrested on March 19 final yr on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard. — PTI