Sunday, February 25, 2018

Surinamese still awaiting extradition: judge slams slow process

A HIGH COURT judge yesterday slammed the slow pace with which an extradition matter involving a Surinamese national, who is wanted in Singapore, was dealt with at the magisterial level, describing it as “oppressive and unfair”.

Justice Carol Gobin made the statement during an oral ruling at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain when the matter came up for hearing for the judge to address the issue of bail. Last week Gobin ruled that the detention of Amarnath Jagmohan at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca for the past year was unlawful.

Jagmohan, 52, is wanted in Singapore on four counts of uttering forged documents and another count of possession of counterfeit currency in that country in 2003.

He was arrested in Trinidad last January and was committed in October by Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar to be extradited to Singapore to answer the charges. Since then he has been in custody awaiting his extradition.

Last Wednesday, Gobin granted a writ of habeas corpus, ordering that Jagmohan be immediately released from custody. Despite this, Jagmohan was not released as the issue of bail arose.

Following the ruling, Senior Counsel Pamela Elder, who is representing the State, said her client intended to appeal the judge’s decision. In turn, attorney David West, who is representing Jagmohan, said if the State had this intention, then his client was entitled to bail.

Elder said she was in agreement that bail could be granted with the court’s discretion, but stated that a formal application needed to be made.

She added that the court also needed to take into consideration Jagmohan’s history of evading authorities.

Following his arrest in Singapore in 2003, Jagmohan was granted bail and his passport was seized. Before the trial got started, Jagmohan fled the country and returned to Suriname where he obtained another passport and flew to Trinidad and Tobago.

Elder said, given this, there was a possibility that if Jagmohan was granted bail in this country, he would again evade authorities.

During yesterday’s hearing, Gobin said the State raised justifiable concerns in its objection to bail, but pointed out that in the court’s view Jagmohan’s lengthy detention awaiting his extradition was unjust.

The judge said the “alarming lackadaisical pace” with which the matter was dealt with in the Magistrates’ Court was in breach of the principle of fundamental justice.

She said the arguments put forward by Jagmohan’s attorneys outweighed those put forward by the State, adding that “even a fugitive has the right to speedy justice.”

Gobin said the court was considering granting Jagmohan bail in the sum of $350,000 but pointed out that certain conditions would be attached.

She also added that the person into whose care Jagmohan is placed also needed to come to court and indicate their willingness to act as surety.

The matter will continue next week Friday.