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.
Instagram Down: Giving 5xx Server Error
Update 19 Mar 2021 23:38 IST: Instagram and other apps are now working fine.
Instagram is currently facing downtime and users from all around the world are reporting Instagram Server Down on Twitter. Some users are also facing downtime on WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger.
The Instagram app is showing “couldn’t refresh feed”. and the Instagram website is giving 5xx Server Error.
Earthquake in Nalanda, Patna – Bihar with 3.5 Magnitude
An earthquake of magnitude 3.5 was reported near Nalanda in Bihar on Monday night, according to India’s National Center for Seismology.
The epicenter of the earthquake was 20 km northwest (NW) of Nalanda, Bihar, India, the agency said. The earthquake struck at 9:23 PM IST at a depth of 5 km from the surface. Tremors were also felt in Gaya, Bhagalpur, Nalanda, Patna.
Uttarakhand Power Plant Damaged After The Glacier Burst
Uttarakhand: A glacial burst in Chamoli district, Uttarakhand triggered an avalanche and massive flooding of the Alaknanda and Dhauliganga rivers on Sunday morning, forcing the emergency evacuation of thousands from surrounding areas, and damaging houses and the nearby Rishiganga power project.
Disaster response and management teams have been deployed to conduct search-and-rescue and relief operations. Around 100 to 150 people may have been killed, Uttarakhand Chief Secretary Om Prakash told news agency ANI. Authorities fear hundreds more may still be stuck. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who is in Assam to campaign for Assembly polls, tweeted: “India stands with Uttarakhand and the nation prays for everyone’s safety.”
Disaster management teams have been mobilized and hundreds of ITBP (Indo-Tibetan Border Police) have been rushed for rescue operations.
SN Pradhan, chief of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), said that teams from the relief force have been moved for search-and-rescue and relief operations in Uttarakhand where a glacial burst has triggered an avalanche. “The glacial burst has taken out a bridge constructed by the Border Road Organisation. Also in the higher reaches, the Rishiganga hydel project also has been damaged,” he said.