Lam­birds Ac­cused Re­manded In Cus­tody

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

On Fri­day June 26 the men ac­cused in what has be­come known here as the Lam­birds Academy Af­fair ap­peared be­fore the mag­is­trates Court in Gros Islet. The men who came to Saint Lu­cia from In­dia and Asia last year to es­tab­lish a learn­ing academy were charged in March of this year with hu­man traf­fick­ing and money laun­der­ing.

On Fri­day the in­dictable charges of hu­man traf­fick­ing and money laun­der­ing were read to the de­fen­dants, among them Lam­birds Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer Dr. Iftekhar Shams who looked quite frail.

All of the de­fen­dants, in­clud­ing Ku­mar Batukb­hai Chadasama, Ashwin Kanji Pa­tel, and Gur­jeet Singh Vilkhu, pleaded not guilty. Rep­re­sent­ing the de­fence is Mar­cus Foster who came on Fri­day to move the case be­yond just case man­age­ment. How­ever, the pros­e­cu­tion pushed for an ad­journ­ment in the money laun­der­ing mat­ter. Ac­cord­ing

Dis­abil­ity and Dis­crim­i­na­tion (Cere­bral Palsy) to the lead Coun­sel, they were still pre­pared to press for­ward with the hu­man traf­fick­ing of­fences.

In­stead the mag­is­trate al­lowed for both in­dict­ments to be heard at a later date. The hu­man traf­fick­ing and forgery charges trial is set to com­mence July 29 at the Castries Court while the money laun­der­ing trial be­gins on Au­gust 12 at the Gros Islet Court.

Mar­cus Foster, who ap­peared to have come in fully pre­pared for the pro­ceed­ings to move for­ward, ques­tioned the lack of pre­pared­ness of the pros­e­cu­tion whom he said had been await­ing doc­u­ments since 29th May. There was also the ques­tion of ex­tracts and ex­changes be­tween the lo­cal AG’s of­fice and the AG’s of­fice in the United States, of files per­ti­nent to the mat­ter.

Foster spoke to re­porters af­ter the ad­journ­ment say­ing that the lack of pre­pared­ness by the pros­e­cu­tion, as well as the on­go­ing re­pairs to the High Court in Castries, was ham­per­ing the trial mov­ing for­ward speed­ily. He also spoke on the ques­tion of Dr. Shams’ health say­ing his client was quite ill. “The sit­u­a­tion with Dr. Shams is that this month is the holy month of Ramadan and he has to fast dur­ing the day. The un­for­tu­nate thing is that feed­ing stops af­ter three (at the prison) and so af­ter he fasts he re­ally can­not get any­thing to eat,” Foster ex­plained. “And so he has di­min­ished quite a bit, as you can see.” The lawyer also told re­porters that Shams is hy­per­ten­sive and a di­a­betic.

Mar­cus Foster con­tin­ues to speak to re­porters on the on­go­ing Lam­birds case de­spite be­ing cau­tioned by the DPP re­cently.

A de­jected Dr. Shams out­side the Gros Islet

Court on Fri­day.

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