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Major cases listed for trial

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The retrial of sedition-accused Jamaat Al Muslimeen leader Yasin Abu Bakr is among the high-profile cases listed for trial when the 2016/2017 Law Term opens on Friday.

Bakr was charged with inciting others to demand money by menace and endeavouring to provoke a breach of the peace stemming from an Eid sermon at his organisation’s Mucurapo Road mosque in 2005. 

Bakr’s trial four years ago ended in a hung jury after the nine-member jury hearing his case failed to come to a unanimous verdict after deliberating for close to six hours. The Guardian understands that the retrial is scheduled for October, however, jury selection is expected to take several weeks as during the last trial 1,000 potential jurors were interviewed before the jury was selected.

Also on the criminal case list for the Port-of-Spain High Court in the new term is the trials of two groups of men charged with kidnapping and murdering businessman Dr Eddie Koury and real estate agent Gerard Gopaul. Koury was kidnapped in September 2005 and his headless corpse was found in a remote area in Caparo days after his abduction. Gopaul was abducted in July 2005 and his body was found by soldiers at Tram Trail Road St Augustine, 11 days after he was kidnapped.

The trial of three former employees of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for smuggling cocaine in diplomatic pouches during 2004 is also set to commence this year. 

In south Trinidad there are 76 criminal cases listed for hearing in the San Fernando High Court including 26 murders, two manslaughters, four attempted murders and six sexual offences. 

Last term saw an increase in the number of criminal matters which were dealt with and concluded in the court. 

Several people pleaded guilty to murder based on the murder felony rule which is when someone engages in an arrestable offence, eg robbery, and a person dies during the commission of that offence. 

Other offences listed for hearing when the new law term opens are: two manslaughter, four attempted murder, eight sexual offences, and destroying trees, among others. 

Across in the lower court the San Fernando Magistrates Court—which is situated opposite the Supreme Court— the staff struggled with the dilapidated conditions and staff shortages.

Earlier this week attorney Subhas Panday expressed hope that more magistrates would be assigned to the San Fernando courts since there were five courts, but only two magistrates. 

In June, because of random violent outbursts—resulting in police officers being injured—prisoners on remand were not brought down to court twice in June because court and process police officers called in sick.

Earlier this year Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh delivered judgment in favour of a PC Bunny Ali, who was injured by a prisoner in the San Fernando Court. 

The judge called for an urgent assessment of all court facilities to ensure proper standard of safety and security in order to protect members of the public, staff, police officers, prisoners and lawyers.


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