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Cassel to prosecute Panday

By FRANCIS JOSEPH, www.newsday.co.tt
Wednesday 14th September 2005

BRITISH Queen's Counsel Sir Timothy Cassel has been retained by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to prosecute former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, his wife Oma, former government minister Carlos John and businessman Ish Galbaransingh on corruption charges.

When the matter was called yesterday, Cassel was present before Senior Magistrate Ejenny Espinet in the Port-of-Spain First Magistrates' Court. John also retained well-known British QC Andrew Mitchell as his lead attorney.

Cassel has been kept busy in Trinidad over the last year, representing the State in the conspiracy to murder trial of Jamaat Al Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr, as well as the second Piarco case in which 13 persons, including three Americans, are charged with 21 offences arising out of the construction of the new airport terminal building.

Panday and his wife are charged with corruptly receiving 25,000 pounds sterling from John and Galbaransingh as an inducement or reward. John and Galbaransingh are charged with corruptly giving the money to Panday and his wife.

After the appearances were announced, Cassel told the court that the prosecution was ready. But he understood that the first Piarco inquiry was still in progress and that Galbaransingh was one of the accused in that inquiry. "It means therefore, that he cannot be in two places at the same time," Cassel added.

Cassel also pointed out that the first Piarco inquiry would not be completed before the end of this year. He asked that this case be put to January 5 next year to start and that a status hearing be held on December 15 to ensure that everything was in order.

Mitchell had no objections, but he asked that the State supply the names of its witnesses and the documents it intends to rely on during the preliminary inquiry. He estimated that the inquiry would last between 12 and 15 days. He said the defence was anxious to have this matter dealt with expeditiously.

Cassel had no problem with supplying the names of the witnesses or the documents, but he warned that the prosecution may want to call additional witnesses during the inquiry.

Ravi Rajcoomar, who represents Galbaransingh, said he had not made up his mind whether he wanted to make any submissions before the start of the inquiry. He had indicated on the last occasion that he wanted to make certain submissions.

When the magistrate inquired of this yesterday, Rajcoomar was undecided. Magistrate Espinet added, "I came here today to deal with preliminary issues, but nothing has happened."

Cassel said the only preliminary issue was what Rajcoomar wanted to raise. He said he would be very surprised if the defence had other issues.

The magistrate then fixed December 15 for a status hearing. She said a date will then be fixed for the hearing of the inquiry.

A number of Panday's supporters were present Wade Mark, Dr Tim Gopeesingh, Chandresh Sharma, Robin Montano, Jennifer Jones-Kernahan, Ganga Singh, and his daughter Mikela.

Trinidad and Tobago News

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