Mar­cus Bis­ram’s lawyers in last-minute bid to with­draw chal­lenge to mur­der charge

Stabroek News - - NEWS -

Mo­ments be­fore he was set to de­liver his rul­ing on Mar­cus Bis­ram’s ap­pli­ca­tion to have a mur­der charge against him with­drawn, Jus­tice Gino Per­saud was yes­ter­day af­ter­noon met with a re­quest by the man’s at­tor­neys to dis­con­tinue the pro­ceed­ings.

The mat­ter, which was set for de­ci­sion at 3pm, was called ap­prox­i­mately thirty min­utes late at the High Court in Ge­orge­town.

Notic­ing the ab­sence of Bis­ram’s lead at­tor­ney, San­jeev Datadin, a vis­i­bly-an­gry Jus­tice Per­saud im­me­di­ately en­quired from the ju­nior at­tor­neys Ganesh Hira and Siand Dhur­jon, who ap­pear in as­so­ci­a­tion with Datadin, the rea­son for his ab­sence.

Of­fer­ing an ex­pla­na­tion, Hira told the judge that Datadin was at­tend­ing to another mat­ter at Ber­bice, where he had to rep­re­sent another mur­der ac­cused.

“Mis­ter Datadin had con­duct of this mat­ter and I will hear from him,” the judge sternly said. He then asked when Datadin was sched­uled to re­turn, while em­pha­sis­ing that he must hear the rea­sons for his last-minute ap­pli­ca­tion to have the mat­ter with­drawn.

Hira said Datadin was not ex­pected back in Ge­orge­town un­til this af­ter­noon.

An irate Jus­tice Per­saud re­called Datadin and Dhur­jon vis­it­ing his cham­bers last Fri­day to dis­cuss their in­ten­tion to with­draw and dis­con­tinue the mat­ter.

Dhur­jon con­firmed that both he and Datadin were told at that point to put in writ­ing the rea­sons for their ap­pli­ca­tion and to sub­stan­ti­ate them with le­gal au­thor­i­ties.

The judge noted that he had told the at­tor­neys that he knew of no pro­vi­sion in the Civil Pro­ce­dure Rules (CPR) which al­lows for the ap­pli­ca­tion they were seek­ing, es­pe­cially since the mat­ter had been set for rul­ing.

Notwith­stand­ing this, the judge said he, how­ever, told Datadin and Dhur­jon to email him over the week­end with what­ever ar­gu­ments they in­tended to rely on, along with their au­thor­i­ties.

Jus­tice Per­saud said that he had re­ceived no cor­re­spon­dence from Datadin, and ex­pressed shock at the no­tice re­ceived from Dhur­jon be­fore the case was called about their in­ten­tion to with­draw and dis­con­tinue the mat­ter.

The judge said that the ap­pli­ca­tion be­fore him clearly sug­gested that Datadin never in­tended to lay over sub­mis­sions to the court nor au­thor­i­ties to back his po­si­tion.

In a bid to of­fer a re­sponse on be­half of his se­nior, Dhur­jon, who con­ceded that the CPR does not sup­port their ap­pli­ca­tion, told the judge that the ap­pli­ca­tion was pre­cip­i­tated by cer­tain de­vel­op­ing events although he did not go into de­tail as to what th­ese were.

Pressed for rea­sons why the cor­re­spon­dence re­quested was not sent, Dhur­jon told the judge he could not say why Datadin did not com­ply, but added that the ap­pli­ca­tion was in the “best in­ter­est” of their client.

Ac­cord­ing to the judge, he had told Datadin and Dhur­jon to also en­sure that what­ever cor­re­spon­dence they were for­ward­ing to him be copied to the So­lic­i­tor­Gen­eral, who is rep­re­sent­ing the Direc­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP), the Com­mis­sioner of Po­lice and the Chief Mag­is­trate, who are all listed as re­spon­dents.

In­censed, the judge said he found it “trou­bling” that Datadin de­fied his or­der to send the email.

Asked whether she had re­ceived no­tice, So­lic­i­tor Gen­eral Kim Kyte-John said she did not. As a mat­ter of fact, KyteJohn said she saw only a dig­i­tal pho­to­graph of the no­tice on a cell­phone.

She ar­gued that even that no­tice of with­drawal was not prop­erly be­fore the court as it was a with­drawal against only the DPP, when it should be di­rected to all three re­spon­dents.

In the cir­cum­stances, KyteJohn asked that the ap­pli­ca­tion be struck out and that sub­stan­tial costs be im­posed upon the ap­pli­cant for wast­ing the court’s time and state re­sources.

Kyte-John asked the court to pro­ceed with its rul­ing, while not­ing that she found the lawyers’ ap­pli­ca­tion “to be very strange.”

Jus­tice Per­saud noted that he had put aside time to de­liver his rul­ing, hav­ing al­ready lis­tened to all ar­gu­ments and go­ing through the af­fi­davits in the mat­ter.

“Isn’t there some abuse of process to come now, on the day of rul­ing, to ask that this mat­ter be with­drawn and dis­con­tin­ued,” the judge asked Dhur­jon, who would only say they were act­ing in their client’s in­ter­est.

He said he tried to ex­pe­dite the case by giv­ing only short ad­journ­ments and noted that it is un­ac­cept­able when all that is left is the de­liv­ery of the rul­ing for coun­sel to now say they are with­draw­ing the mat­ter.

Lift­ing a thick pile of sub­mis­sions Datadin had pre­vi­ously ten­dered to the court, the judge asked whether he had wasted his

time read­ing the files, while stat­ing that he had other im­por­tant mat­ters to at­tend to as well. The judge said that since be­ing ap­pointed to the Bench ear­lier this year, he was as­signed 100 cases dat­ing as far back as 2008 and he noted the back­log is­sues plagu­ing the ju­di­ciary as well.

Ac­cord­ing to Dhur­jon, Fri­day was the ear­li­est they could have dis­cussed their ini­tial in­ten­tion to have the mat­ter dis­con­tin­ued with the judge.

“I will like Mr. Datadin to be here. Mr. Datadin can’t do this to me. I will not al­low him to abuse the process of this court. I want to hear him on this is­sue,” Jus­tice Per­saud said.

Not­ing that Datadin is the Cap­tain of the Bar As­so­ci­a­tion’s cricket team, the judge sent Dhur­jon with a mes­sage to his se­nior, to ap­pear be­fore him pre­pared at 1.30 this af­ter­noon with “gloves, pad, bat and ball.”

Bis­ram, a United States-based Guyanese, is cur­rently in a US jail await­ing extradition to Guyana, where he has been named a co-de­fen­dant in the mur­der of Num­ber 70 Vil­lage car­pen­ter Faiyaz Narine­datt.

Ear­lier this month, he lost his chal­lenge to the extradition, when US Judge Peggy Kuo or­dered that he be sent back to Guyana to face the charge here, ef­fec­tively thwart­ing his bid to stay her hands as they sought to have the mur­der charge dis­missed in the High Court here.

Datadin had ar­gued that the charge is “with­out le­gal foun­da­tion, null, void, un­rea­son­able and un­fair.”

Ac­cord­ing to him, the only ev­i­dence which the state pur­ports to have against his client is a state­ment from its key wit­ness, Chaman Chu­ni­lall, al­leg­ing to have heard Bis­ram say­ing words to the ef­fect, “kill him.”

Dur­ing the pre­lim­i­nary in­quiry (PI) into the charge against Bis­ram’s five coac­cused, be­fore Mag­is­trate Char­lyn Ar­tiga at the Spring­land’s Mag­is­trate’s Court, how­ever, Chu­ni­lall, un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion, pur­port­edly re­canted his story.

As a re­sult, Datadin ar­gued that the re­can­ta­tion is suf­fi­cient to war­rant the DPP to with­draw the charge lev­elled against Bis­ram.

Datadin has ar­gued that the wit­ness could not have known what the po­lice claims he said in his state­ment, as he can­not read nor write, and he sug­gested that the man’s de­nial of hav­ing knowl­edge of the mur­der was omit­ted from his state­ment.

Kyte-John, how­ever, has re­futed Datadin’s con­tention that the pur­ported re­can­ta­tion should be a rea­son to with­draw the charge against the ac­cused, ar­gu­ing that th­ese are is­sues which the mag­is­trate is called upon to ex­am­ine and de­ter­mine at the con­clu­sion of the PI, whether a prima fa­cie case has been made out to com­mit the de­fen­dant to stand trial be­fore the High Court.

Po­lice here have al­leged that Bis­ram pro­cured and com­manded Or­lando Dickie, Radesh Motie, Dio­dath Datt, Harri Paul Parsram, and Ni­ran Ya­coob to mur­der Narine­datt be­tween Oc­to­ber 31 and Novem­ber 1, 2016, at Num­ber 70 Vil­lage, Ber­bice.

Mar­cus Bis­ram

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