London: Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi, fighting extradition to India on charges over the nearly USD 2 billion Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud and money laundering case, has been remanded in custody by a UK court until April 15.
The 49-year-old, who has been lodged at Wandsworth Prison in south-west London since his arrest last year, was due to appear via videolink from prison for his regular 28-day call-over hearing on Tuesday but the Westminster Magistrates’ Court here said that the formality was completed last Thursday. “This case is next listed for a call-over videolink hearing for April 15,” a court official said on Monday.
Modi’s legal team and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS), representing the Indian government in the extradition proceedings, are scheduled to hold a ‘lawyers-only’ case management hearing in the case April 15, with a five-day trial scheduled between May 11 and 15.
Most of the legal cases in the UK are switching to videolink and telephonic options where possible, with all new jury trials suspended amid the social distancing rules in place to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. All UK prisons have also been issued with health guidance related to the coronavirus outbreak, with strict rules around hand-washing for inmates, staff and visitors.
“The government’s absolute priority is to protect life, and we have robust and flexible plans in place to keep prisoners, staff and the wider public safe based on the latest advice from Public Health England,” said a UK Ministry of Justice spokesperson.
Modi had made a fifth attempt at bail in the High Court earlier this month, which was rejected as the judge ruled that he continued to pose a flight risk.