LONDON: The judge hearing fugitive businessman Vijay Mallya’s extradition trial here has ordered a video to be taken of the prison cell the ex-Kingfisher chief’s counsel said the photos “did not show any natural light”.
Chief magistrate Emma Arbuthnot on Tuesday ordered Mark Summers QC, representing the Crown Prosecution Service, on behalf of the government of India, to provide a video of Barrack 12 at Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai in three weeks’ time so she can see “how the windows are”. The next hearing in the extradition trial will be on September 12.
Westminster magistrates’ court on Tuesday heard that Barrack 12 was a prison within a prison covered by a security blue steel sheet. “The government of India has asserted there is sufficient natural light to read in the cell and have provided photos they assert show natural light
flooding into the cell. But we had them analysed and our expert said it seemed difficult to work out where the light is coming from,” Clare Montgomery QC, representing Mallya, said.
“It is clear that whatever the light is, it is not natural light flooding into the cell throughout the day. These photos demonstrate the government of India’s assurances cannot be relied upon,” she said. “It seems unlikely that the building within a building has any access to natural light because the sun does not shine through a prison building into another building. This has a blue impermeable covering which I understand to be steel so the whole barrack is enclosed in a steel block which is impenetrable to light.
“Their photos are supposed to demonstrate natural light,” she said. She then pointed out that a shadow cast by a “distinctively shaped grill above the door” to the barrack “does not appear to be the sort of shadow cast by natural light”. “The only way of getting that photo is to shine a bright light through that grill, and open the doors to get it shining into the barrack. That cannot be a photo of natural light on any view ,” she said. “There is no angle of the sun that I can conceive of other than by manipulation of the doors where light is shining in that way.”
Summers defended the photos, saying: “The horizontal bars on the windows allow natural light and air into the building through the corridors and from there into cells.” Handing Arbuthnot another letter of assurance, he said there was enough material for Arbuthnot to
determine if this met Article 3 of the European Convention on Human Rights and “there was no need for an inspection”.
He added since Barrack 12 was in a separate compound with capacity of six and ‘no danger of overcrowding’. “This where he will be in pre-trial, during trial and, if convicted, whatever length of sentence he receives,” Summers added. He said Mallya would get clean mattresses, blankets and pillows and there was no risk of “collapse of the building”, which had been a concern of Arbuthnot’s.
Courtesy – The Times Of India