Almost a decade after a D’Abadie car dealer, his father and his brother were charged with importing 440 kilogrammes of marijuana in a shipment of cars and car parts, the three have sued the State for almost $1 million in compensation.
Richard Ramkisson, of Ramkisson and Sons Parts Express Ltd, his father Rattan and brother Mohan were charged by the Customs and Excise Division after the marijuana was found in a shipment they were alleged to have brought in.
In their lawsuit, which is being heard by Justice Frank Seepersad, they say they told Customs officials the shipping container was tampered with before they received it on July 23, 2007.
Richard Ramkissoon testified yesterday that the shipping tag on the container was not the same as the documents sent by his supplier in Japan. He said he pointed this out before the container was opened and the drugs found.
Seepersad is expected to give his decision on February 19.
Ramkisson said his brother was in Japan when the containers were packed and sealed, and that all shipments from Japan were sent to Jamaica before being shipped to other Caribbean countries.
In his testimony, Customs officer Kerrol Murray said he charged the three under Section 213 of the Customs Act on the basis of strict liability, which did not require them to know the drugs were in the container. He also said he charged all three since they were listed as directors of the company.
The magisterial case against the three was eventually dismissed in 2011 after Customs officers failed to appear in court to prosecute the matter.
PC Gerard Critchlow, of the Organised Crime, Narcotics and Firearms Unit, who also testified, said the police were unable to charge the family because there was not sufficient evidence to do so. The three are seeking compensation to recover $225,000 in legal fees and over $500,000, which represents the value of the five cars and auto parts, which formed part of the shipment impounded by Customs. The cars and parts were eventually returned in 2012, but in the lawsuit Ramkisson said the company was unable to sell either the cars or the parts.
The Ramkissons are being represented by Jagdeo Singh and Kiel Tacklalsingh.