Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 29th 2017 Contents news A11
Wednesday, March 29, 2017 guardian.co.tt
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for breach of
A 24-year-old Woodland man has been placed
on a $5,000 bond for breaching a protection or-
der and assaulting a woman.
Shaffick Mohammed pleaded guilty to both charg-
es when he appeared before San Fernando Fourth
Court Magistrate Gloria Jasmath.
Court prosecutor Sgt Krishna Bedassie said the
victim was granted a restraining order against Mo-
hammed at the San Fernando Magistrates' Court on
However, around 4.50 pm on March 12 she was at
her Woodland home when the accused came to drop
off her two children, aged four and two.
As she reached out to collect her two-year-old son,
the accused slapped away her hand, spat on her and
threw the baby bag at her, hitting her on the chest.
PC Ramnarine subsequently arrested the accused
at Court Street.
The accused said: "Officer this woman only caus-
ing trouble in my life."
Mohammed, who represented himself in court,
apologised for his actions. He had no previous con-
The magistrate placed him on a $5,000 bond to keep
the peace and be of good behaviour for three years. If
he breaches the bond he will be arrested and returned
to the court for sentencing.
The Office of the Prime Minis-
ter has again taken to its Facebook
Page to lobby support for legisla-
tion to remove preliminary in-
As it did in January when the Foreign
Tax Compliance Act was being debat-
ed, it is now lobbying support for the
removal of preliminary inquiries.
The post under the tongue in cheek
heading: "We don't need preliminary
inquiries. Here's Why..." speaks to the
thousands of cases sitting in the Mag-
istrates Courts, many of them for over
ten years, and the impact on citizens
who don't know whether their cases
will be discharged or sent for trial.
It noted that with an estimated
142,000 cases before the magis-
trates courts annually, "the system
is stretched beyond capacity." And
with 50 magistrates and 17 magis-
trates courts it said some may argue
that they are "unrealistically tasked
by the current system."
Magistrates preside over summary
offences, which are punishable by
shorter prison sentences and fines
than indictable offences. These cases
do not require a jury and it falls to the
magistrate to conduct the trial, deter-
mine guilt or innocence and prescribe
a sentence. They also preside over civil
matters involving small money claims
of less than $15,000.
But it is their role in facilitating pre-
liminary inquiries into serious criminal
matters (indictable offences), to deter-
mine whether there is enough evidence
for a case to be sent to trial in the High
Court that is a concern.
The OPM notes that in some cases
these matters have been before the
magistrates courts for over ten years
in the preliminary inquiry phase, to de-
termine whether there is sufficient ev-
idence to make out a prima facie case.
Some citizens, it said, had been wait-
ing "for more than a decade to learn
whether their cases will be discharged
or sent to the High Court for trial."
Using statistics to make the case it
noted that as at July 2015 there were
29,090 criminal matters pending in
the magistrates court.
Of these, 25,567 were over five years
old, 3,187 were five to ten years old and
336 were over ten years old.
The situation, it said, was further ex-
acerbated when an accused person was
unable to secure bail or was charged
with a non-bailable offence: "Not only
is the State burdened with the costs of
incarceration, but the person is denied
their freedom in the absence of a deter-
mination of guilt or innocence, whilst
going through a lengthy preliminary
The Government said it was com-
mitted to ensuring that the legal system
protects the rights of all citizens.
It explained that the Indictable Of-
fences (Pre-Trial Procedure) Bill 2017
to eliminate preliminary inquiries was
Traveling Mexican supporters, outside the Hasely Crawford Stadium, Port-of-Spain during their team's final training session on
Monday in prepapration for yesterday's FIFA Russia 2018 World Cup Qualifier match against T&T.
PHOTO: MATTHEW LEE KONG/CA-IMAGES
just one of several pieces of legislation "that will bring
sweeping changes to the way our courts function
and dispense justice."
When preliminary inquiries are eliminated, the
onus will then be on the Director of Public Prose-
cutions to determine whether there wa sufficient
evidence to proceed with a trial.
DPP Roger Gaspard expressed concern at a JSC
meeting las Friday that the move to remove prelim-
inary inquiries was "short-sighted."
He said therewere 800 murder indictments pend-
ing in the high court and while the abolition of the
preliminary inquiry would mean quicker movement
of matters "from charge to the High Court," when
they reach the high court "you have to wait in a queue,
so you have to deal with the issues that formed the
queue in the first place."
The OPM said: "The DPP's office will receive
additional staffing in anticipation of this change."
The Opposition UNC voted against the legisla-
tion in the Lower House when the vote was taken
on March 17. The legislation, which did not require
a special majority, was passed by a vote of 19 for
and 16 against.
PM's office lobbies
support to abolish PIs
6.1500 6.6059 6.7793
4.6509 4.8957 5.2874
7.8714 8.2857 8.9391
6.8219 7.1809 7.7554
****** 0.0597 0.0642
2.2272 2.4209 2.6170
2.7086 ****** 3.5092
for MARCH 28TH, 2017
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