...Sturge spinning stories, says Sinanan
That's how lead counsel for the Commission of Enquiry Avory Sinanan SC labelled the explanation given by attorney Wayne Sturge for his absence on Monday at the Commission's hearing.
Sturge told the Commission yesterday both verbally and in writing that neither he nor his associates ever appeared before the Commission as attorneys for Yasin Abu Bakr. In fact, Bakr has never retained him (Sturge) to represent him (Bakr) at the Commission.
Sturge said what appearances were made at the Commission previously by him and his associates were in their capacity as trial counsel and they were merely seeking to update the Commission on the progress of Bakr's sedition trial.
"I have not been retained by Imam Bakr to represent him at the Commission of Enquiry. Although I have appeared at the Enquiry on a previous occasion and although I have had Ms V Pargass and Mr Navine Maharaj appear in my stead, such appearances were made in our capacity as counsel at the criminal trial seeking to prevent and/or limit the potential prejudice that may have been occasioned to our client by his appearance at the Commission. Our appearances were also in the hope that we would eventually be retained by the Imam at the Enquiry.
"On Saturday last it was made clear to me that my services (as far as this Enquiry was concerned) had come to an end. Further confirmation of this came today", he said, adding that he expected Bakr's testimony to be led by Sinanan.
Sturge said he was not even formally retained by Bakr for the retrial of the sedition charges "owing to financial constraints being experienced by Imam Bakr".
Sturge had come under fire on Monday for his failure to attend the proceedings to explain why, in the light of the summons issued to Bakr to appear, Bakr was absent. He (Sturge) had been accused of treating the Commission with the "greatest disrespect and contempt".
But Sturge reiterated that his appearance yesterday, as was Hasine Shaikh's appearance on Monday, was "out of courtesy" to the commissioners and not as attorney for Bakr at the Commission.
Neither Commission chairman Sir David Simmons SC nor Sinanan was prepared to allow Sturge to get away with that explanation.
Simmons quoted from the transcript of the statements given on June 29, 2011 by attorney Maharaj, stating that he was appearing for Bakr. Sturge said Maharaj was only in practice for one year and he apologised for the miscommunication. Simmons also quoted from attorney Pargass, who had said the same thing to the Commission.
Simmons stated further that nothing Shaikh had stated on Monday elucidated the situation. She said Shaikh did not explain that she was holding for Sturge in a limited capacity as Bakr's counsel for the criminal trial and not as his counsel for the Commission.
He pointed out that Sturge never alerted the Commission to the fact that it had been misled.
Sinanan was more blunt, saying that Sturge was offering an "Anansi story" which would have made Derek Walcott (Nobel Laureate) proud. Sinanan questioned why Sturge gave an undertaking to the Commission to prepare a witness statement for Bakr if he was never representing him at that forum.