April 25, 2006
Lawyers for convicted Opposition Leader Basdeo Panday were at the Port-of-Spain High Court today, attempting to get bail for Mr. Panday while they appeal the decision handed down yesterday by Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls. The incarcerated former Prime Minister has not been granted bail.
McNicolls found former Prime Minister Mr. Panday guilty on all three counts of failing to declare a London bank account to the Integrity Commission for the years 1997, 1998 and 1999, contrary to Section 27 (1)(b) of the Integrity in Public Life Act, 1987.
Yesterday, Mr. Basdeo Panday was taken to the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca, Trinidad, after being sentenced to a term of two years imprisonment with hard labour.
In the application for bail which was held 'In Camera', Justice Anthony Camona said that he needed to have some substantial evidence as well as skeletal evidence and transcripts of the matter before he could deal with the bail application. The application was heard at 11 am today and lasted just about 20 minutes in the High Court at the Hall of Justice in Port of Spain. Mr. Panday was represented by Mr. Desmond Allum, Mr. Fyard Hosein, and Mr Rajiv Persad.
The State, represented by Queens Council Sir Timothy Cassel, did not object to bail because they felt that the matter was in the hands of the High Court. Justice Camona stated that he could not give a ruling right away and the matter has been postponed to Thursday, 27th April at 11:30am. However, the Judge stated that the hearing was mainly for substantive arguments to be made. This means that there is no guarantee that the court will be granting bail to Mr. Panday on Thursday.
In terms of Mr. Panday's Appeal application, his attorney stated they will be filing the papers tomorrow 26th April, 2006.
The attorneys were clearly disappointed that a decision for bail could not be reached today. The Attorneys for Mr. Panday came to court with the expectation that the bail application would have been a very simple procedure. However, because the Judge will have to examine a large amount of documents, the process is expected to be a lengthy one.
None of Mr. Panday's family, supporters or UNC executives were present at the High Court today.
President George Maxwell Richards issued a statement saying that "Mr. Panday shall forthwith cease to perform his duties as a Member of Parliament." This means that Mr. Panday's Couva North seat is now vacant. The President also declared the office of Opposition Leader vacant. The only post that Mr. Panday now holds is Chairman of the United National Congress.
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