By Akilah Phillip Newsday
The unruly mob that greeted two former ministers and four top officials on the last occasion, was absent yesterday as police officers strapped with sub-machine guns guarded the front of the Port-of-Spain Magistrates' Court.
Queen's Counsel Karl Hudson-Phillips told Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls he was concerned about the accommodation at the court for the six persons who are all charged with corruption.
They include former Minister of Finance, Brian Kuei Tung; former Minister of National Security, Russell Huggins; businessman Ishwar Galbaransingh; CEO of Northern Construction Limited Armith Maharaj, Kuei Tung's companion Renee Pierre, along with CEO of Maritime Group of Companies, John Henry Smith.
The courtroom, which was packed beyond capacity, had police officers standing at the back of the room while one of the defence attorneys sat with the public.
Hudson-Phillips asked whether something could be done to secure a less cramped courtroom within another jurisdiction. Magistrate Mc Nicolls did not heed his request and proceeded to adjourn the case to April 24, at 10 am.
Kuei Tung is facing four counts of misbehaviour in public office. Huggins and Smith, have three charges of aiding and abetting to commit misbehaviour in public office while Pierre has one and Galbaransingh along with Maharaj are charged with four.
Kuei Tung has five corruption matters, Huggins three, Galbaransingh one while Maharaj, Pierre and Smith were charged with two. All except Huggins allegedly conspired to defraud the State of $7,652,842.
Attorneys Allan Alexander, SC, Vernon De Lima and Joseph Pantor are representing Huggins, Smith, Kuei Tung and Pierre. De Lima told the court yesterday he was representing Fidelity Finance.
Northern Construction Limited (NCL), the other company mentioned in the charges, is represented by Desmond Allum, SC, Sophia Chote and Gillian Lucky. The attorneys are also appearing for Galbaransingh and Maharaj.
Magistrate Mc Nicolls acceded to De Lima's request for Smith to leave the country today for medical attention. De Lima informed the court Smith would return on April 16.
Queen's Counsel Karl Hudson- Phillips announced that Nalini Singh was added to the prosecution's team, which includes Theodore Guerra, SC, Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Carla Brown-Antoine, Maria Wilson, Gilbert Peterson, Elaine Green, Kathy-Ann Waterman and George Busby.
Hudson-Phillips said he started to provide disclosure to the defence, but the process was incomplete and suggested a conference to discuss what documents would be revealed.
Businessman Ishwar Galbaransingh, owner of NCL, along with Kuei Tung were safely ushered out of the packed courtroom. This was a complete difference from the mob of angry woman who jeered and attempted to attack the duo at the last hearing.
Policemen were strategically positioned on the streets surrounding the Magistrates' Court as the six persons departed from the building.
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