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UK a safe haven, won’t flee, Nirav Modi lawyer tells court on bail plea; ruling…

Ruling on diamantaire Nirav Modi’s fourth bail plea will be delivered by the high court of England and Wales on Wednesday, after his lawyer on Tuesday sought to assure the court he will obey strict conditions and not flee, if granted bail.

Claire Montgomery, Nirav Modi’s lawyer, told Judge Ingrid Simler that he considered the UK as a safe haven, which was a strong disincentive to do anything to breach the possible bail condition that may prohibit travel outside the UK.

“He is not only determined to stay here, but has strong reasons. Nowhere else he would get the panoply of rights that he would get here. He couldn’t afford to go anywhere else”.

“Modi is not Julian Assange. He is not going to find refuge in the Ecuadorean embassy. He is an ordinary Indian citizen”, she said, adding that he is willing to obey any “ostensibly harsh” bail conditions.

Nirav Modi’s request to the high court is his fourth attempt to walk out of jail where he has spent the last 84 days. The Westminster Magistrates Court, which is to decide on India’s request to extradite him to face major charges of financial fraud, had earlier thrice rejected his bail request.

Nirav Modi, who was arrested by Scotland Yard on March 19, was last denied bail by chief judge Emma Arbuthnot on May 8 on grounds of ‘flight risk’, the scale of the alleged fraud, access to funds, potentially influencing witnesses and destroying evidence, and weak links to the UK.

His defence team had previously offered to furnish a security deposit of 2 million pounds and follow strict conditions, including a 24-hour curfew, in the magistrates court, but was refused bail.

Modi has been lodged in the Wandsworth prison in west London, where he has has been remanded until June 27. If the high court grants bail on Tuesday, he will be released.

The magistrates court denying Modi bail thrice is significant in the history of India-UK extradition treaty signed in 1992. Almost all Indians sought since were granted bail while their cases were considered in British courts, including former Dawood Ibrahim aide Iqbal Mirchi, Vijay Mallya, Sanjeev Chawla and Ravi Shankaran.

While Modi seeks bail in the high court, the magistrates court is preparing for the extradition trial to begin. At the last case management hearing, Arbuthnot sought information from India within 14 days of the jail where Modi would be lodged, if extradited.

She fixed July 29 as the date of the next case management hearing, by when the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) acting on behalf of India is expected to submit an ‘opening note’ detailing key charges against him.

First Published:
Jun 11, 2019 20:58 IST

Source: HindustanTimes