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U.K. court further remands Nirav Modi to appear on January 30

Nirav Modi. File

Nirav Modi. File   | Photo Credit: Reuters

His extradition trial is scheduled for May 11 and is expected to last over five days

Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, fighting extradition to India on charges over the nearly $2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case, was further remanded in custody at a hearing on Thursday and asked to appear on January 30.

Modi appeared for his regular 28-day “call-over” appearance from London’s Wandsworth prison at Westminster Magistrates’ Court. His extradition trial is scheduled for May 11 and is expected to last over five days.

Deputy Chief Magistrate Tan Ikram, who was the judge on Thursday, asked if there were any other issues to be discussed. Modi, wearing a black, light grey and white sweat shirt and a grey bottom, said no.

The 48-year-old had moved yet another bail application last November with an “unprecedented” house arrest guarantee, akin to those imposed on terrorist suspects, while also citing mental health issues from being behind bars at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest in March.

But the bail plea was turned down by Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot over continued fears of witness intimidation and failure to surrender before the court for his extradition trial in May 2020.

Also read | HC rejects Choksi’s plea to stay case against him in special court

“The past is a prediction of what might happen in the future,” Judge Arbuthnot had said at the time.

The U.K.’s Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), which represents the Indian government in the extradition proceedings, said there is no further prospect of an appeal for bail in a higher court as the U.K. High Court had already turned down Modi’s plea earlier this year.

“You only get to go once and can’t keep appealing over and over”, a CPS spokesperson had said.

Meanwhile, Modi must appear for “call-over” hearings at Westminster Magistrates’ Court until the case management hearings for his extradition trial kick in over the coming weeks.

Also read | PNB fraud case: Nirav Modi to appear via videolink at U.K. court

The diamond merchant denies the charges of fraud and money laundering and his defence team, led by barrister Hugo Keith, has claimed that the Indian government has wrongly “blackened” Modi’s name as a “world-class schemer”.

Modi has been behind bars at Wandsworth, one of England’s most overcrowded prisons, since his arrest on March 19 on an extradition warrant executed by the Scotland Yard on charges brought by the Indian government.

During subsequent hearings, the U.K. court had been told that Modi was the “principal beneficiary” of the fraudulent issuance of letters of undertaking (LoUs) as part of a conspiracy to defraud PNB and then laundering the proceeds of crime.

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Printable version | Feb 17, 2020 3:11:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/uk-court-further-remands-nirav-modi-to-appear-on-january-30/article30460595.ece

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