Nirav Modi set for remote extradition trial from May 11 in UK court amid COVID-19 restrictions

London: The five-day extradition trial of fugitive diamond service provider Nirav Modi will start from May 11 in a part-remote setting, a UK court has ordered, amidst the restrictions and social distancing measures put in place to comprise the coronavirus unfold. Modi is combating his extradition to India over the almost USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and cash laundering case.

The 49-year-old, who has been lodged at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest final yr, appeared earlier than the court through video conferencing because of the social distancing procedures put in place throughout the UK courts in view of the COVID-19 pandemic.

He spoke solely to substantiate his title and date of beginning throughout the listening to, which befell at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in London.

District Judge Samuel Goozee, who presided over the case administration listening to, expressed some reservations in regards to the extradition listening to going forward subsequent month as scheduled beneath the present lockdown.

But it was agreed between all of the events {that a} trial run of the court’s CVP (Common Viewing Platform) will happen throughout a lawyers-only listening to on May 7 forward of the ultimate listening to.

“Some prisons are producing prisoners in person, so I will direct Wandsworth Prison to produce Mr Modi in person for the trial from May 11. If that is not practicable, his participation by live link remains a backstop,” Judge Goozee concluded.

It was agreed {that a} restricted variety of authorized representatives will likely be current bodily in court for the trial as witnesses give their proof through videolink. Modi will have the ability to observe the proceedings both from the dock, if the jail authorities comply with a bodily switch, or through the judiciary’s widespread viewing system from Wandsworth Prison.

The five-day listening to from May 11 pertains to the Indian authorities’s extradition request licensed by the UK authorities final yr.

The case, filed by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and the Enforcement Directorate (ED), pertains to a large-scale fraud upon an Indian Public Sector Undertaking (PSU) via the fraudulent acquiring of letters of understanding (LoUs) and the laundering of the proceeds of that fraud.

Two further expenses of “causing the disappearance of evidence” and intimidating witnesses or ?legal intimidation to trigger dying? have been added on by the CBI and licensed earlier this yr.

“The May 11 extradition hearing is going ahead and the new request (two additional offences part of the CBI case) has not been joined but will be dealt with at a separate later hearing, probably in July,” mentioned the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), showing on behalf of the Indian authorities.

CPS barrister Nick Hearn indicated that the federal government of India’s representatives could be following the proceedings and giving directions through the court’s on-line widespread viewing platform, given the coronavirus associated journey restrictions.

“We have received comprehensive responses in writing from the government of India, which would reduce the likely length of cross-examinations,” mentioned Hearn.

It was additionally confirmed that the diamond service provider wouldn’t be giving proof in the case, however his authorized crew plans to provide round six witnesses, together with a jewelry professional in addition to judicial and prisons consultants.

“We are very anxious to hold the hearing if we can, if Mr Modi’s participation and that of the witnesses seems feasible,” mentioned Modi’s barrister Clare Montgomery, throughout the tele-conference listening to on Tuesday.

Judge Goozee has set May four because the deadline for the skeleton arguments, draft expenses and any additional proof to be offered in the case. In reference to the “wealth of documentary evidence relied on in the case”, he has sought an agreed pre-trial studying checklist by the top of this week.

Most of the authorized circumstances in the UK have included videolink and telephonic choices the place doable, with all new jury trials suspended amid the social distancing guidelines in place to fight the coronavirus pandemic.

Modi, whose Wandsworth jail is taken into account one of the vital over-crowded in England, made a fifth try at bail in the High Court final month, which was rejected because the choose dominated that he continued to pose a flight danger.

He was arrested on March 19, 2019, on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard on expenses of fraud and cash laundering introduced in by the Indian authorities.

The coronavirus circumstances in the UK have crossed 158,000 whereas greater than 21,092 folks have died, based on Johns Hopkins University tracker. 

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