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State moves to amend charge against Griffith
Almost two weeks after the prosecution closed its case against Science and Technology minister Dr Rupert Griffith on a charge of using insulting language, the State yesterday made an application to amend what it referred to as “a technical defect” in the charge.
Appearing before Chief Magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar yesterday, state prosecutor George Busby indicated his intention to make the application in his submissions. He said the court had the power to amend the charge, even after the six-month period from the date on which the charge had been laid.
He cited legal authorities to both the magistrate and Griffith’s defence team. Busby said, “The court has the power to amend if it sees fit and certainly upon application.” Griffith, the Toco/Sangre Grande MP, is charged with using insulting language to the annoyance of persons during an incident on March 8, at Dock Road, Wrightson Road, Port-of-Spain.
Griffith pleaded not guilty when he first appeared in court on May 21, 2012, before Magistrate Cherron Raphael. When the matter resumed before Ayers-Caesar on November 21, Griffith’s defence team led by Israel Khan SC made a no-case submission based on the fact that there was no such charge in law. Griffith is also being represented by attorneys Om Lalla and Derrick Balliram.
Requesting that the words “to the annoyance of persons on the said road” be substituted with the words “which might tend to provoke any other person to commit a breach of the peace,” Busby said the amendment was “a much lesser defect” and there was no miscarriage of justice or any intent to mislead or deceive the defence, as Griffith knew what he was charged with and for.
Claiming Griffith and his attorneys had not raised any objections during the trial, Busby pressed for the amendment as he said the defence team “knew what they were coming to face” as documents had been disclosed since August 2. Responding to Busby, Khan repeated his earlier submission that the charge against his client was not known in law.
Khan criticised Busby for making the application at “this 11th hour.” Khan said any consideration for Busby’s request would indicate a “bending backwards to accommodate the prosecution’s case against this defendant.” The magistrate adjourned the matter to January 23, when she is expected to rule on whether or not the amendment will be allowed.
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