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Murder enquiry nears end

By Nikita Braxton-Benjamin nikita.braxton@trinidadexpress.com

THE preliminary enquiry in which six police officers are charged with murdering three civilians at Moruga may be over after only four more court hearings.

Prosecuting attorney senior counsel Gilbert Peterson told the court yesterday the State had 11 witnesses remaining in the case.

He said four witness statements had been filed and six more should be ready by next Friday.

Filing of statements allows for defence attorneys to read the evidence and, if they choose, call the witness to take the stand.

"Subject to cross-examination from the defence, in three, maybe four hearings, we may finish this matter," Peterson said in the Princes Town Magistrates' Court.

He told the court there was one witness who will be giving full evidence from the stand.

Defence attorney senior counsel Israel Khan asked if this witness was WPC Nicole Clement.

ACP Raymond Craig had charged Clement along with Sgt Khemraj Sahadeo and PCs Renaldo Riviero, Glenn Singh, Roger Nicholas, Safraz Juman and Antonio Ramadin with killing Abigail Johnson, Allana Duncan and Kerron "Fingers" Eccles at Rochard Douglas Road, Barrackpore on July 22, 2011.

But the murder charge was discontinued against Clement after she turned a State witness.

She is instead facing a charge of perverting the course of justice.

"I am anxious for her. She was with them. She fell down in court and now she is no longer with them," Khan said, as he made reference to Clement collapsing during her first court appearance.

The State has so far called 37 witnesses in the enquiry which began on November 6 last year.

Khan said the State could have done the matter by way of paper committal.

Magistrate Debra Quintyne, who is hearing the enquiry, said the prosecution had chosen to do the case "like long-time ice cream".

PCs Balraj Bhagwandeen and Jaggan Balgobin testified yesterday.

Five entries from the firearm registry diary of the San Fernando Police Station were tendered into evidence without objection.

But Khan did comment on the clothing worn by the witnesses.

Both were dressed in Nehru suits.

"Do you always dress like that for court?... Is that a uniform?... What caused you to wear Calcutta jacket today?" Khan asked.

Peterson asked the relevance of the questions.

Director of Public Prosecutions Roger Gaspard and attorney Eileen Green are appearing along with Peterson on behalf of the State.

Attorneys Ulric Skerritt and Celeste St Louis are representing the policemen and Khan heads the defence team.

The case was adjourned to February 4.

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