By Andre Bagoo
December 24 2011 – newsday.co.tt
MERE days after the United States expressed disappointment over the outcome of failed extradition proceedings against businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson potential hurdles have emerged.
The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions is finding the situation very challenging in mounting renewed proceedings against the men in the local courts.
Legal questions are now being raised in relation to two major charges—which have largely been forgotten—which had once been brought against the men in relation to two contracts tied to the Piarco International Airport project.
The charges—relating to contract package 9 and contract package 13—were dropped years ago by former director of public prosecutions Geoffrey Henderson (now a judge) in the local courts, on the assumption that the extradition proceedings would move forward in the United States. That never happened.
Now, there is uncertainty as to whether the current DPP, Roger Gaspard, can mount the charges afresh. The charges arguably overlapped with similar charges under US law which the men faced, and which had been the basis of the US’s extradition request.
The issue was noted by the High Court, in its recent ruling on the extradition, handed down last month.
In a 57-page ruling, Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh noted that Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, in ordering the men extradited, had taken into account certain submissions made to him by Gaspard.
According to Boodoosingh, “the DPP had noted that certain specified charges were discontinued.”
“Further, the DPP’s view, which the Attorney General accepted, was that any attempt to reinstate the charges previously discontinued would be met by a challenge of abuse of process, and that such a challenge was likely to be successful.”
“Further, the DPP said, given his position as a minister of justice, he would have found it difficult to advance that the charges could be reinstated,” Boodoosingh said in the ruling. In the judgment Boodoosingh also noted that Attorney General Anand Ramlogan, in arguing for the extradition to move forward, had cited the DPP’s representations.
“He (Ramlogan) then specifically referred to the DPP’s view that there was now no possibility of reinstating the discontinued CP 9 and CP 13 charges,” Boodoosingh said at paragraph 25 of the judgment.
In a short interview with Newsday yesterday, Gaspard said it was, in fact, possible for the old charges to be brought back. However, he said, that move would face certain “hurdles”.
Asked if it was possible for the CP 9 and CP 13 charges to be brought back, Gaspard said, “the answer is yes.”
Questioned over paragraph 25 of the Boodoosingh judgment which hinted that Gaspard had previously thought it was impossible to bring back the charges, Gaspard said, “that is the judge’s view. I was never of the view that it was not possible (to bring back the charges). It may face certain hurdles and might be subject of frustration. But I was always of the view that it was possible.”
Asked if he would expedite his consideration of the matter, Gaspard said, “I have too. In terms of apprising the public as to what is the way forward.” He said he was yet to determine how he will do this.
In the High Court ruling, Boodoosingh did not rule on the question of potential abuse of process claims, but argued that, “It is significant that when the then DPP, Mr Henderson, had discontinued the charges, it was expressly premised on the existing extradition proceedings. The notice of discontinuance stated this.”
Boodoosingh questioned the idea that the men could now argue abuse of process in the courts in order to block the dropped charges from being brought back.
“Throughout the history of the extradition proceedings, the claimants had advanced before several courts that the proper forum for them to be prosecuted arising from the Piarco Airport corruption scandal was Trinidad and Tobago,” he argued. “The fact that no court made a definitive finding on it is not of moment in this respect. The claimants had maintained throughout that they wished to defend any charges arising from their alleged conduct here. This is significant.”
“If what the present DPP suggested could happen, that is, that the claimants could now advance that any reinstatement of the charges would be an abuse of process, then it follows that the claimants would now have to mount a position contrary to what they had advanced throughout. For the claimants to do that, in itself, could constitute an abuse of process. It is by no means a foregone conclusion, as the DPP’s letter suggested, that a court would find a reinstatement decision to be an abuse of process.”
In the High Court ruling, Boodoosingh said the practice of charges being discontinued locally after a person was extradited, was not established. However, checks by Newsday note that at least in one case, that involving the 2008 extradition of persons charged with the murder of Balram “Balo” Maharaj, this is what reportedly happened.
The Attorney General has indicated that the state will not appeal Boodoosingh’s judgment.
In the judgment, the judge ruled that the Attorney General’s failure to entertain further representations from the men after he got representations from the US and the DPP, was unfair.
In remarks not central to his findings, Boodoosingh, however, further remarked that, “In Trinidad and Tobago we are all fully aware of the deficiencies in the administration of justice, and in particular the length of time which criminal trials take to be concluded.
However these factors cannot ever be a reason, whether consciously or subconsciously, to order the extradition of our nationals to other jurisdictions where the criminal justice system is allegedly more efficient and effective.”
The two men have already been committed to stand trial in relation to a set of charges which comprise the Piarco 1 case. However, there is as yet no indictment against them.
Some charges relating to the men, in what is known as the Piarco 2 inquiry, are currently pending in the Port-of-Spain Magistrates Court. But those charges are being challenged by the men’s lawyers who have made no-case submissions, which are due to continue on January 6, 2012.
Any renewed charges in relation to CP 9 and CP 13 could be subject to legal challenge as well, all the way to the Privy Council, lasting over a period of years.
The men were first charged in 2002.
2 thoughts on “Major Hurdles in Pursuing Ish and Steve Case”
History in the making i.e. Boodoosingh is doing his best 2put the Justice system on trial tantamount 2giving the law d slip. He’s seems to me, more of a trial lawyer than a judge in this mater and he’s just loving it.
This was a setup done in party circles perhaps b4 Anand Ramlogan became AG.
Its the same thing when top businesses began throwing money behind the stillborn PP coalition. PP rewarded its sponsors with the cancellation of the BAE OPVs, rendering the Coast Guard impotent, leaving drug & money launders to reign free on the high seas.
Just look at this deliberate infringement e.g:
“In the judgment, the judge ruled that the Attorney General’s failure to entertain further representations from the men after he got representations from the US and the DPP, was unfair”.
The State should sue/impeach Attorney General Anand Ramlogan for obstruction otherwise incompetence.
Every doc knows what to order 4a common cold; like every Attorney knows what Anand Ramlogan knowingly did not did. It was/is procedural in reciprocating representation. One just don’t take pills without water.
Boodoosingh comes out batting in a match fixed before this Administration first ball was bowled.
Boodoosingh must ask himself; what’s up: The AG was bowling underarm no-balls in Sabina Park in heavy overcast?
If Rowely had any understanding of what’s happening around him, he’d make that call to impeach Anand Ramlogan; never mind the odds.Anand Ramlogan choked this the State.
This Administration is playing with everything sacred to our Nations heritage and constitution, we are becoming a global player for all the wrong reasons.
“Over $100 million has been spent by the Government over the last nine years since charges were laid against the two businessmen?”
Pray someone please tell me why dis legal comedian, won’t keep his trap shut, for each time he chooses to babble in typical callous, media posturing fashion,to the astute honest, amongst us , it’s an obvious negative indictment ,on his government, ‘ people,’ and our nation’s citizenry,as a whole, re a certain unwholesome penchant, for cuddling white color thugs ,and evil destructive bandits- especially if they happen to be cronies , or folks of huge influence-while fixated on demonizing , a few low end , blue color bums.What is even sad is the naive notion , that is still touted , that this can be done while naively claiming victory, with respect to a war on crime in La Trinity.
Hey Rammy, since you are so perturb about crime cost, then tell us when you finally intend to put a hole in the criminal skulls,of local fake Iman Abu Bakr, and de Bengal Tiger Basdeo Panday, due to their long drawn out cases ,that seem to be coming to no end?
While at it, why not let us know when your Euro adoring government, plan’s to eliminate dem Privy Council British blokes, and so fully show some respect for local ,and regional legal luminaries , by accepting the Trinidad based CCJ ,as our final court of appeal?
Oh , yes , we forgot , you immoral creatures , won’t touch dat with a 10 ft pole, since ,the stupid notion, still exist in certain unmentionable quarters ,that this said body, would be extremely bias, against a special , lifetime victimized tribe, due to the fact that the majority of the Judges, unlike T&T, are of a divers racial background. How does it feel , to be upstaged by de upstart Bajans , and always maligned Guyanese,as the only countries of significance, to be accede to jurisdictions of this body, and instead remain ,in the dungheap of backwardness,like the Yardee /Jamaican ,ego inflated characters?
As one wise Englishman once said ,and I paraphrase ,’Oh what a tangled web we weave ,when characters such as these pseudo political,social lightweights ,attempt to continually deceive ,’ the historically sleeping/ comatose folks of my beloved country, Sweet, Sweet, T&T, eeeeh Rammy , aka ‘de COP pit- Bull?’
Someone should inform him, to try and understand the meaning of his own quotation however- ‘de longest rope has an end.’
The clock is ticking Rammy – maybe another two years, before Her Majesty’s Government,comes to a screeching halt, and you having to revert back to ambulance chasing ,suspect Human Rights cases,about alleged Police , and State ,ethnic cleansing /racial, legal malfeasance ,against de tribe ?
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