Mallya’s extradition hearing opens today

Vidya Ram London | Updated on January 09, 2018


But the timing of a final verdict remains unclear

The much-awaited extradition hearing of liquor tycoon Vijay Mallya is set to kick off in central London on Monday.

Over the next 10 days, Emma Arbuthnot, chief magistrate at Westminster Magistrate’s Court, will hear the case presented by Britain’s Crown Prosecution Service, on behalf of the Government of India, and the defence on which Mallya will hope to thwart efforts to return him to India to face prosecution.

Mallya was arrested in London in April initially on fraud charges, with money laundering charges added subsequently. He has been on bail since April.

A number of case management hearings have taken place. Initial efforts by the defence to push the hearings into the New Year have proved unsuccessful, and despite the addition of new charges in October, the December date has remained, reflecting the eagerness of both sides to bring the case to a conclusion.

Previous extraditions

While just one Indian has been extradited from the UK in the last 24 years (Samirbhai Vinubhai Patel, wanted by India in relation to the 2002 Gujarat riots), with two extradition attempts refused in early November, there is a certain level of confidence on the Indian side, which has been proactive in its approach, addressing some of the issues that often arise in such cases — for example, an explanation of the prison conditions in India that Mallya would face, were addressed in written material and presented to the court even ahead of the judge’s request for such evidence.

Regular engagement between Indian and British authorities had also taken place, reflecting the recognition on the British side of the seriousness with which India is pursuing the case.

However, with the matter now within the court system, the two sides have sought to emphasise that it no longer remains a matter between the two governments. The timing of a verdict on the case remains unclear. The court is yet to decide on a suggestion from the judge about whether written closing submissions – which Arbuthnot is known to prefer — would be filed in December at the end of the case or in January. The defence objected to the suggestion, arguing that delaying it to January could be used by the prosecution to introduce fresh material — evidential or non-evidential.

“Things have a habit of popping up,” Arbuthnot concurred, leaving the option open for when the written closing arguments were to be submitted. The defence previously criticised the introduction of supplemental money laundering charges, which led to Mallya’s re-arrest, and re-release on bail in early October.

Lawyers, witnesses

Mark Summers QC, a specialist in extradition law, will lead the case for the prosecution, while Clare Montgomery QC will lead the defence. Witnesses set to appear include Margaret Sweeney, chief accountant at Force India F1 Team; Humphreys, an aviation expert; Prof Lau, a legal expert; and Alan Mitchell, who has previously given evidence in other extradition cases on prison conditions in India.

Published on December 03, 2017

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