Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : July 1st 2017 Contents GAIL ALEXANDER
Former COP leader Winston Dookeran has
spoken with leadership candidate, Nicole Dy-
er-Griffith, wishing her the best in COP's July
9 leadership contest, she has confirmed. Dy-
er-Griffith said yesterday she had a phone con-
versation with Dookeran. She's contesting the
post with other contenders---
and Sharon Gopaul-Mc-
On Monday, Seeper-
sad-Bachan signalled there was
support from Dookeran.
However, Dookeran, while
saying she'd spoken to him
about her candidacy and he told
her he was happy there's a con-
test and she'd offered to stay in
politics, also said Dyer-Griffith
emailed him on Tuesday.
Dookeran said Dyer-Griffith
asked to speak with him and he
confirmed he would be "more
than pleased to do so." Dookeran said he hoped COP
"may again initiate a healthy, not fake, political nar-
rative that touches the young persons," of T&T.
After they spoke, Dyer-Griffith said yesterday, "Mr
Dookeran wished me well whilst exploring a few of
the challenges facing not only T&T but more so the
region. He's not involved in active politics."
However, it appears the election is heading for
court regarding an alleged issue of Dyer-Griffith's
Alvin Ramroop, the attorney for COP member, Kirt
Francis, wrote the COP leadership giving them until
Thursday---extended to yesterday---to withdraw her
It's claimed her membership in COP---renewed in
February--- was not done within processes according
to the COP's Constitution and her participation in
the election was null and void. In the absence of re-
sponse, he said the matter would be taken to court.
Yesterday, Ramroop said no response had come
from COP's leadership up to noon and while he was
consulting with his client on the next step, it appeared
the matter is heading to court.
Saturday, July 1, 2017 guardian.co.tt
Piarco defendants want magistrate to recuse self
One week after they filed
a lawsuit at the High Court
challenging the decision of
the magistrate not to dis-
miss corruption charges
against them relating to the
construction of the Piarco
International Airport, the
defendants have submitted
an application calling for
Magistrate Ejenny Espinet to
recuse herself on grounds of
bias and "over-stepping" her
They are also now requesting
the matter be transferred to the
High Court under Section 14 (4)
of the Constitution.
In making the submissions at
the Port-of-Spain Magistrate's
Court yesterday, Queen's Coun-
sel Edward Fitzgerald argued that
Espinet's "repeated and emphat-
ic findings" against the men dur-
ing her ruling that a prima facie
case had been made out on var-
ious grounds, had proved to be
"in excess of your jurisdiction"
and clearly demonstrated a bias
against the defendants.
On June 23, the group which
includes businessmen Ish Gal-
baransingh and Steve Ferguson,
along with former government
ministers Sadiq Baksh and Bri-
an Kuei Tung, former Airports
Authority Chairmen Tyrone
Gopee and Ameer Edoo, and
Peter Cateau, filed a lawsuit at
the POS High Court arguing that
the State had failed to prove its
case against them.
In the lawsuit, the men
claimed Espinet overstepped
her boundaries when she ruled
on their no case submission on
They claimed that while she
is only empowered to determine
whether there was a prima facie
case made out against them in
the preliminary inquiry, in her
ruling on the submission---she
made numerous statements
pertaining to their alleged guilt.
They also claimed that her
decision pre-decided the case
and showed the apparent bias
of the inquiry.
Echoing these arguments
yesterday, Fitzgerald dismissed
the response of Senior Counsel
Gilbert Peterson, who is repre-
senting the Office of the Director
of Public Prosecutions (DPP) as
he said, "No right minded person
could look at the words and not
come to the conclusion that you
had found a determination."
He accused Espinet of coming
to an "improper determination"
even though the men continued
to appear before her in the mat-
te r.Even as he added that her de-
parture from appropriate judi-
cial laws was demonstrative of a
"classic bias," he admitted that
it was something which could
happen from time to time as to
err was human.
However, he declared the
Magistrate's findings "violated
all established norms" and was
a "misjudgement" on her part.
Expressing similar sentiments
as Fitzgerald, Galbaransingh,
who is not being represented,
submitted a nine-part response
to Espinet's ruling in which he
too claimed she had displayed a
certain bias and had arrived at
a pre-determination without
allowing him to testify.
Proclaiming Espinet to be
highly qualified coupled with
years of legal seniority, Gal-
baransingh said she ought to
know better than to make a
factual determination that was
unlawful and now posed a real
risk of the court not being able
to approach the evidence he had
to give with an air of impartiality.
Citing the length of time that
had elapsed since the charges
were first proffered against him
in 2004, Galbaransingh argued
it was now "untryable."
Indicating that she would rule
on the latest applications when
the matter is continued next
week, Espinet also advised those
present yesterday that she would
be proceeding on pre-retirement
leave from early January.
The matter had been ad-
journed to July 7 at 10 am.
The men were implicated between 2004 and
2005 for alleged corruption and bid rigging in
the airport project between 1995 and 2001.
In 2011, High Court Judge Ronnie Boodoos-
ingh quashed proposed extradition of Galba-
ransingh and Ferguson to the United States
to face similar charges.
Boodoosingh ruled that the inquiry before Es-
pinet was the best forum for the prosecution
as the substantive crimes were alleged to
have occurred in this country.
The following year, the men charged for cor-
ruption in the project applied under the con-
troversial Section 34 of the Administration of
Justice (Indictable Offences) Act.
The legislation gave people charged with spe-
cific offences who had waited over ten years,
to be tried to apply for their matters to be
The group challenged the State after the leg-
islation was repealed with their applications
However, their claim was rejected by the High
Court, Court of Appeal and eventually the
ABOUT THE CASE
Dookeran wishes Nicole
best in COP elections
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