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PNB fraud: UK court hears expert views on Nirav Modi's mental health, family suicide history

Dr Forrester, forensic psychiatrist, who had assessed Modi over a period of time, says his mental health has deteriorated over a period of time as he has developed psychomotor slowing, which means slower body movement, long pauses between sentences and using short sentences

Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi Fugitive diamond merchant Nirav Modi

A court in the United Kingdom, during Day 4 of the hearing in the Nirav Modi extradition case on Thursday, heard expert views -- one virtual and two in-person -- on the fugitive diamond merchant's mental health, his suicidal tendency, and family history of suicide.

Epidemiologist Prof Richard Coker, on COVID-19 situation in Arthur Road jail and its danger to Nirav Modi, said: "COVID spreads extremely effectively through prisons... and the risk increases if community prevalence of the disease is high."

He gave his testimony in the court via a live video link from Thailand. The defence had made a case of botched up numbers and testing issues in the prison.

The prosecution, however, said there could be no such consequences, as by the time Nirav would go back - in a year or more - it would be an entirely different situation.

Dr Forrester, forensic psychiatrist, who had assessed Modi over a period of time, said Nirav Modi's mental health has deteriorated over a period of time as he has developed psychomotor slowing, which means slower body movement, long pauses between sentences and using short sentences.

He also highlighted Nirav Modi's family history of depressive illness and suicide.

"He presents with a high risk of suicide although not immediate. His condition has been deteriorating and so I predict further deterioration. His depression is likely to increase if not treated in a suitable setting," said Dr Forrester. The defence also tried to make a case of prison conditions not congenial for Modi's mental conditions.

Alan Mitchell, who's a prison expert, also argued about his concerns around the lack of natural lighting in the jail. Modi's defence team, led by barrister Clare Montgomery, had raised several issues around the conditions at Barrack 12 at Arthur Road Jail in Mumbai, where he is to be lodged on being extradited, claiming it is covered in its entirety in a blue metallic cover since it housed a terrorist in 2007.

The hearing will continue today also. Former Supreme Court judge Markandey Katju will give his testimony today. He will likely argue that Nirav Modi might not get a fair trial in India.

Nirav Modi is being subject to two sets of criminal proceedings -- a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe on a large-scale PNB fraud and an Enforcement Directorate (ED) case relating to the money laundering charges against the diamantaire.

CBI is also seeking his extradition to India on the grounds that he destroyed evidence and intimidated a witness in the case. If the judge finds a prima facie case against Modi, it will go to UK Home Secretary Priti Patel to formally certify his extradition to India to stand trial.

Edited by Manoj Sharma with PTI inputs

Also read: Indian prisons, Nirav Modi's mental health in focus at extradition case hearing