Two men were awarded a total of $180,000 in compensation to be paid by the State for their unlawful detention for three weeks during the August 2011 State of Emergency.
Justice Vasheist Kokaram awarded Marvin Pascall and Reiba Rodriguez a total of $180,000 in a judgment delivered last week Wednesday in the Hall of Justice. Also last week, the judge made a similar award for Onelle Dyer of Moruga, for wrongful incarceration during the same State of Emergency.
There are approximately 40 lawsuits pending from persons jailed during the state of emergency. In a ten-page judgment, Kokaram referred to Pascall, 37, of New Grant; Rodriguez, 35, of Princes Town, who he stated, were arrested on August 26, 2011, by police.
Kokaram stated that in the trial for malicious prosecution, police officers who testified contended that they honestly believed Pascall and Rodriguez were members of a gang. This they based on their own observation and information from other officers. Both men were charged with robbery as well, but the case was dismissed against them.
Kokaram referred to Justice Peter Jamadar’s take on proving gang membership within the meaning of the Anti-Gang Act. “It requires careful compilation of the evidence showing how a gang is organised, how the gang activity is perpetrated through gang members and their respective roles in such activity.
Pascall and Rodriguez spent 25 days in police custody. In Pascall and Rodriguez’s trial for malicious prosecution, attorney Kevin Ratiram argued their case. The State defended the lawsuit with attorneys Coreen Findley, Kelisha Bello and Sasha Sukhram instructed by Laura Persad and Diane Katawaroo.
Justice Kokaram, in his judgment, stated that he found the police version of how they incarcerated the two men, was inherently implausible. “The interview with the claimants (Pascall and Rodriguez) is troubling. It is vague and superficial,” the judge stated. The judge stated that Pascall and Rodriguez were therefore maliciously prosecuted on a fabricated robbery charge. The judge stated that in the circumstances, the State must pay $70,000 to each claimant. They were also awarded $20,000, each in exemplary damages.