Assault charges against the CEO of A&V Oil and Gas Ltd CEO Hanif Nazim Baksh and his son-in-law Cpl Billy Ramsundar were thrown out by a Siparia Magistrate Court on Monday after the State failed to present evidence against them some two years after they were charged.
Baksh and Ramsundar were charged in 2017 for assaulting Guardian Media’s senior photographer Kristian De Silva and maliciously damaging his Canon DSLR camera on September 15.
At the time, De Silva was along Nazim Avenue, Penal, covering the “Fake Oil” story which led to Petrotrin terminating its multi-million contract with A&V.
Baksh is the father of former PNM senator Allyson Baksh, who resigned shortly after the incident. Ramsundar is her husband.
In 2018, Baksh was again charged. This time it alleged that on November 9, 2017, in Penal, he knowingly or reasonably believing Khusial Motiram was a potential witness in a criminal investigation into the assault of De Silva and the malicious damage of property belonging to De Silva, for which Baksh was a suspect, he used threats to influence Motiram to give false evidence and withhold true evidence.
He was granted $150,000 bail.
When the matters were called before Senior Magistrate Margaret Alert, attorney for Baksh and Ramsundar applied for the charges to be dismissed and discharged on the grounds that the State was applying for yet another adjournment.
It came after the Court had given the prosecution six months to prepare itself for trial and had failed to comply. Baksh defence was led by former attorney general Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj SC and included former Legal Affairs Minister Prakash Ramadhar and former EMA deputy director Michael Rooplal.
Maharaj said that each time the matter was called over the last two years, the prosecution applied for a postponement.
In recent hearings, lawyers for Baksh and Ramsundar began to object.
On January 28 when another adjournment was sought, the defence attorneys asked for the matter to be dismissed, however, the Court granted the prosecution six months to be ready and fixed a trial date for yesterday.
Maharaj said that when the matter came up on Monday, the prosecution again sought another adjournment, to which he objected and submitted that sufficient time had been given and that the prosecution was making a mockery of the orders of the court. He said Baksh and Ramsundar had attended every hearing over the last two years.
De Silva said on Monday that he was told that when the trial started, he would be informed of when he needed to appear in court. He said that three weeks ago, he spoke to investigators who requested information about the cost of his lens. He believed that the case was continuing as usual.
He said that with so much time passing since the assault, he felt numb.