Tuesday, January 23, 2018

January start for Section 34 case

DPP agrees to put criminal matters on hold


CASE ADJOURNED: Standing outside the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain following an appearance before Justice Mira Dean-Armorer in their Section 34 challenge are accused businessman Ishwar Galbaransingh, from left, attorneys Fyard Hosein SC, Michael Beloff QC, Edward Fitzgerald QC, Anette Manchan and co-accused Steve Ferguson. —Photo: ANISTO ALVES

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Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Roger Gaspard has agreed to an application being made for an adjournment of all pending criminal matters involving individuals who have made applications under the now repealed Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act.

These include businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson, financial director of Northern Construction Ltd (NCL) Amrith Maharaj, former government ministers Brian Kuei Tung and Sadiq Baksh, and former chairmen of the Airports Authority Tyrone Gopee and Ameer Edoo, who are all charged with fraud-related offences arising out of the Piarco Airport Development Project.

The preliminary enquiry in that matter is scheduled to resume before Magistrate Ejenny Espinet in the Port of Spain Magistrates Court on Friday.

Gaspard, through attorney Ian Benjamin, gave the undertaking yesterday in the High Court at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain that an adjournment will be sought until February 1, 2013, by which time it is expected that several constitutional motions would have been heard by Justice Mira Dean-Armorer.

Before Dean-Armorer are 37 matters in which applications were made to have cases dismissed under Section 34 of the Act and the constitutionality of Government's repeal of the Section is being challenged.

Former prime minister Basdeo Panday and his wife Oma, ex-ministers Russell Huggins, Carlos John and Kuei Tung, Renee Pierre, Anderson Meharris, Aman Harripersad, Collin Catlyn, Oswald Catlyn, Barbara Gomes, John Henry Smith, Brent Alvarez, Carlton Roop, Dane Lewis and Montgomery Diaz have all made applications to the High Court.

Applications have also been made on behalf of companies Northern Construction Ltd, Maritime Life Caribbean Ltd, Fidelity Finance and Leasing Company Ltd, and Maritime General Insurance Company Ltd.

A private criminal complaint filed by Dr Krishna Persad against businessman George Nicholas is also engaging Dean-Armorer's attention.

By consent, except in the case of the Pandays, the DPP has been allowed to join as an interested party in the Constitutional motions.

It was also agreed by all parties that the matters involving Ferguson, Edoo, Maritime Life Caribbean Ltd, Fidelity Finance and Leasing Company Ltd, and Maritime General Insurance Company Ltd would be used as test cases. As a result, all the other Constitutional motions have been adjourned to February 1, 2013. Dean-Armorer gave directions for the filing and serving of written submissions and set aside five days, from January 28 to February 1, 2013, for the hearing of oral submissions.

Attorneys representing the State in the Constitutional motions include Lord David Pannick QC, Allan Newman QC, Solicitor General Eleanor Donaldson-Honeywell SC, Tom Richards, Shastri Parsad, Gerald Ramdeen and Nadine Nabby. The attorneys representing the applicants before the court include Edward Fitzgerald QC, Michael Beloff QC, Fyard Hosein SC, Sophia Chote SC, Ravi Rajkumar, Rajiv Persad, Rishi Dass, Michelle Solomon, Ulric Skerrit, Ricky Harnanan, Michelle Solomon, Asha Watkins and John Heath.

In the private criminal matter, attorneys Israel Khan SC, Keith Scotland and Daniel Khan appear on behalf of Dr Krishna Persad, while attorney Hedwige Bereaux is representing Nicholas.