Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, who has been lodged at a prison in London since his arrest in March last year, is set to appear via videolink for the second leg of his extradition trial at a UK court on Monday.
The 49-year-old jeweler is fighting extradition charges related to the estimated USD 2-billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case brought by the Indian government, being represented at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London by the UK’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS).
In line with the coronavirus lockdown restrictions, District Judge Samuel Goozee has directed Modi’s appearance from a room in Wandsworth Prison in south-west London with social distancing norms in place for the part-remote setting for the five-day hearing scheduled to conclude on Friday.
Justice Goozee had presided over the first leg of the extradition in May, during which the CPS sought to establish a prima facie case of fraud and money laundering against Modi. The upcoming hearings are ear-marked to complete those arguments after the Indian government had submitted additional ‘corroboratory evidence’.
It will then go on to deal with the additional extradition request, made by the Indian authorities and certified by UK Home Secretary Priti Patel earlier this year, which add on the charges of “causing the disappearance of evidence” and intimidating witnesses or ‘criminal intimidation to cause death’ against Modi.
Goozee has already said that the different extradition requests are inextricably linked, and he would therefore be handing down his judgment at the end of hearing all the arguments.
Additional hearings scheduled for November 3, for the judge to rule on the admissibility of the evidence that will be presented before him, and December 1, when both sides will make their final submissions, mean his ruling on whether Modi has a case to answer before the Indian courts are expected only after the final hearing in December.
The charges against the diamond merchant center around his firm Diamonds R Us, Solar Exports, and Stellar Diamonds making fraudulent use of a credit facility offered by PNB, known as ‘letters of undertaking’ (LoUs).
The CPS, appearing on behalf of India, had told the court that a number of PNB staff conspired with Modi to ensure LoUs were issued to his companies without ensuring they were subject to the required credit check, without recording the issuance of the LoUs, and without charging the required commission upon the transactions.
Modi’s team has sought to counter allegations of fraud by deposing witnesses to establish the volatility of the gems trade and that the LoUs were standard practice.
Modi has made repeated attempts at bail over the past year, each of which was turned down as he is deemed a flight risk. The jeweler was arrested on March 19, 2019, on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard.
At a case management hearing ahead of the trial last week, Modi’s barrister Clare Montgomery had told the judge that she may be seeking a partial reporting ban on the proceedings following allegations of ‘party political bias’ against one of their ‘expert witnesses from India’ retired Indian High Court judge Abhay Thipsay.
“We may have to put in an application for reporting restrictions around the reporting of his [Thipsay] evidence to avoid further public comment on it,” she said.
From the legal documents submitted, prison conditions in India will once again play a major part in this extradition case, as in the past with other Indian extradition cases, with Modi’s severe mental health condition being a factor to be raised behind closed doors.
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An Earthquake of Magnitude 4.9 felt in Nepal, India and China
An earthquake of Magnitude 4.9 hit Nepal, India, and China at around 03.00 pm IST. Tremors were felt in Nepal with light tremors in some cities like Muzaffarpur, Hajipur, and Patna in the Indian state of Bihar.
The epicenter is said to be 10 km from Phulpingkatti in Nepal. More updates are awaited.
London Bridge Down: Death of Queen Elizabeth brings a moment of reckoning for Britain
LONDON: Queen Elizabeth II has died in Scotland aged 96 after battling health problems since last October, the Royal Family announced Thursday. Doctors had placed the queen under medical supervision at Balmoral Castle, her estate in the Scottish Highlands.
Buckingham Palace has just released the following statement: “The Queen died peacefully at Balmoral this afternoon. The King and The Queen Consort will remain at Balmoral this evening and will return to London tomorrow.”
Her close family rushed to her bedside as doctors grew “concerned” about her health on Thursday, Buckingham Palace said. Her grandson and his wife, Harry and Meghan Markle – who had a public showdown with the Palace, flew in from Canada.
According to news agency AFP, the Queen pulled out of a planned meeting with her senior political advisors on Wednesday, after being told to rest. The previous day she had audiences at Balmoral – her Scottish Highlands retreat, with outgoing Prime Minister Boris Johnson and appointed his successor, Liz Truss.
In recent months, the Queen appeared visibly frail and had a series of withdrawals from public engagements. She had taken to walking with a stick and was also seen touring the Chelsea Flower Show in a motorized buggy.
In June, the UK came together for the Platinum Jubilee celebrations to mark the 70th anniversary of the Queen’s accession to the British throne. Her husband, Prince Phillip, died last year at the age of 99, two months before his 100th birthday.
Queen Elizabeth II’s tenure as head of state spanned post-war austerity, the transition from empire to Commonwealth, the end of the Cold War and the UK’s entry into – and withdrawal from – the European Union.
Her reign spanned 15 prime ministers starting with Winston Churchill, born in 1874, and including Liz Truss, born 101 years later in 1975, and appointed by the Queen earlier this week. She held weekly audiences with her prime minister throughout her reign.
Bharat Ratna awardee and true gem Lata Mangeshkar Ji is no more
The nightingale of the music industry, Lata Mangeshkar Ji passed away on February 6 at the age of 92 in the Breach Candy Hospital in Mumbai. She was born on September 29, 1929. Very few singers have achieved the admiration that she did in her life.
She sang thousands of songs in more than 20 different languages. Not only in India, Bangladesh, Nepal, and Pakistan, she was also admired and praised in western countries.
PM Modi was among the first ones to share the sad news. “The kind and caring Lata Didi has left us. She leaves a void in our nation that cannot be filled. The coming generations will remember her as a stalwart of Indian culture, whose melodious voice had an unparalleled ability to mesmerise people,” he tweeted.
Apart from Bharat Ratna, she received numerous honors like the Daughter of the Nation award, the Legion of Honour award from the French government, and many more. Lata Mangeshkar truly was a gift that India will never cease cherishing.
We at Giveupnot pay our heartly tributes to her and wish that “unki aatma ko sadgati prapt ho”, OM SHANTI.
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