Antigua/Dominica: The dogged episode of Mehul Choksi has centred the media having dramatical theories gaining new momentum everyday. Following the accusation that an Indian fugitive was brought forcibly into Dominica on Calliope of Arne, Captain Fernandes Fertinant speaks with Associates Times in an exclusive interview.
Question: What was the purpose of your voyage to Dominica from Antigua on May 23?
Answer: We provide sailing services to the people, and anyone can hire us for sailing. It is my bread and butter, and I’ve been providing charter services for more than 20 years. My clients have had planned to travel from Antigua to Dominica and then St Lucia.
Q: How many individuals were onboard during the boat trip?
A: Including me, two of my staff members and two guests, there were a total of 5 persons onboard during our voyage to Dominica.
Q: What time did your yacht leave from Antigua on May 23?
A: We reached English Harbour, Antigua on 22nd for immigration and customs clearance evening. On May 23 morning around 10 am after clearing customs, we left for Dominica at around 11 am as by regulation, you need to leave the country after clearing the immigration and customs. And after covering 11 hours journey, we were able to reach Dominica late evening on May 23 at Portsmouth. Because it was late night when we reached Dominica, we cleared customs and immigration the next day morning.
Q: Can you tell the exact date and time when you reached Dominica?
A: As I have already told you, we reached Dominica 23 evening before midnight.
Q: Can you provide the details of individuals who travelled through Calliope of Arne on May 23?
A: I am not authorised to disclose the names of my clients to the media. I will reveal all the details to any government authority, as I have already given them the details. If any further information is required in relation to this, I will provide it to them.
Q: How often do you travel to Dominica from any other Caribbean Island?
A: I cannot tell the specific number of how many times I visit Dominica, but whenever someone hires my boat, we provide sailing services to them across Caribbean countries.
Q: The two guests who sailed with you to Dominica, have you met them earlier?
A: No, this was the first time I operated my yacht for them.
Q: Do you think these two persons have anything related to Mehul Choksi’s abduction or if they were working for any government?
A: I think it is not possible for them to abduct someone, one was aged over 50, and another one was over 63 and was having some issues with his leg as he could not walk properly. Both of them were not fit, and I do not believe that they could have kidnapped anyone forcibly.
Q: Was there any suspicion on the guest who sailed on May 23?
A: Since they came on my boat, we kept sailing initially in Antigua and later to Dominica. They slept on the boat. Rather than this, we used to go purchase some groceries during our stay in Antigua and Barbuda.
Q: Who hired the yacht on May 23?
A: The yacht was not hired on May 23; they hired it on May 19 for one week. And we did sailing in Antigua for about 4 days, and then on May 23, we sailed to Dominica. The second guest got sick of ocean waves while reaching Dominica, so we cancelled the plan to go to St Lucia and they both stayed in Dominica. From there, my crew and I sailed to St Lucia.
Q: Was there any unauthorised individual on board between May 23 to May 25?
A: No, there was absolutely no unauthorised individual onboard. As I have told you, there were only 5 persons on the boat.
Q: Was there any women on the boat?
A: No, there was no woman on the boat since our boat was hired by two men.
Q: Any person from Media, Police or Legal Authorities questioned you in this regard?
A: Government authorities have reached out to me, but no media or person related to legal authority has contacted me till now.
Q: Some of the images surfaced of the boat with two men on board. Can you tell who are those men and what date/place that picture was taken?
A: That picture, I think, was clicked by customs on morning May 24 in Dominica when they came for the routine inspection of my boat. We live in the 21st century; everyone has a mobile phone, camera and CCTVs are all over the place. I am sure that when we left Antigua, there are CCTV cameras and that might have captured our footage during departure.
Q: Why Dominica Leader of Opposition
and lawyers mentioned your boat?
A: I do not know this, maybe my boat came to Dominica on official records, so they might have concluded to target my boat. It is not difficult to track a boat record from a customs house.
Q: Do you think unofficial boats sail between countries?
A: All the time, we hear the news that speed boats roam around the region for human trafficking or illegal immigration. The boats they sail in are unofficial have no record of the voyage. I do not think people would use an official boat to abduct someone.