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World

November 7, 2019

I will kill myself, Modi says in court

World

Thu, Nov 07, 2019

Billionaire Indian fugitive Nirav Modi has threatened to kill himself if his extradition to India is ordered by courts in the UK on request of the Indian government.

The jailed diamond dealer, 49, appeared at the Westminster Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday with his barrister Hugo Keith QC to apply for the bail but Chief Magistrate Emma Arbuthnot refused him bail for the fifth time, saying that the Indian businessman was a flight risk and had extensive means to escape.

Nirav Modi has told in his statement to the judge that there was no chance he would get a fair trial in India and he would prefer to kill himself if extradited to India. His lawyers have said that extraditing him to India will put his life at risk.

Nirav Modi is fighting extradition to India on charges of nearly USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case. His trial is due to start in May next year but his lawyers argued before the judge that his bail security will be increased from £2 million to £4 million and he should be put under extreme bail conditions but the judge said that increased bail security would not guarantee that the diamond merchant will not flee.

The businessman has been imprisoned at the Wandsworth prison since his arrest on March 19 on an extradition warrant executed by Scotland Yard on charges brought by the Indian government.

His lawyer told the court that Modi was assaulted by two fellow inmates in an “extortion attempt” at the Wandsowrth prison and that his life was at risk in the jail facility. Hugo Keith QC told the court that his client was kicked to the floor and punched in the face a day earlier and that the “targeted attack” was partly caused by media coverage wrongly describing his client as a “billionaire diamantaire”.

He accused Narendra Modi’s government of discrediting the retail tycoon’s name as a “world-class schemer”. The lawyer told the court that Indian tycoon’s mental health had deteriorated in prison where he suffers from anxiety, depression and isolation.

James Lewis QC, appearing for the Crown Prosecution Service on behalf of the Indian government, argued that Modi had said he will kill himself if his extradition is ordered. “That in itself is the strongest motivation for someone to abscond. There is no trust because he has interfered with witnesses and destroyed evidence.”

Modi has protested his innocence and says charges against him are false.