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Friday 15 December 2017
Crime and Court

Piarco defendants want magistrate to go

Defendants in the Piarco II preliminary inquiry say the magistrate hearing their case should not be allowed to continue.

They have alleged that the magistrate gave a “flawed” ruling in which she made a series of conclusive adverse findings against them, and had already reached a conclusion on their committal without giving them an opportunity to advance their defence.

British Queen’s Counsel Edward Fitzgerald, who represents some of the accused who are seeking the magistrate’s removal, said Senior Magistrate Ejenny Espinet ought not to continue hearing the case.

In his submissions to Justice Jacqueline Wilson in a judicial review claim, which seeks to have Espinet removed from hearing the almost-completed decade-old case, Fitzgerald said the magistrate acted in excess of her jurisdiction and predetermined the case before all the evidence was in.

Lawyers for the magistrate and the Director of Public Prosecutions are resisting the claim of the Piarco defendants.

Douglas Mendes, SC, who appears for Espinet, said the magistrate made it clear in her ruling that before her was not a trial and was not making conclusive findings but was only assessing the evidence that was before her at that stage of the proceedings.

At the magisterial proceedings, the defendants have started either giving evidence or calling their witnesses in their defence after Wilson refused to temporarily halt the matter.

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