THE MOTHER of the two siblings who successfully sued the State for their detention in two adult prisons even though they were minors on a murder charge, wants to know why the matter was not settled but defended all the way to the Privy Council – TT’s final appellate court.
On June 8, Attorney General Faris Al-Rawi referenced the case at a media conference to answer questions related to legal fees paid to private attorneys.
He also criticised former attorney general Anand Ramlogan for representing the siblings.
Last month, the Privy Council overturned a decision of the Court of Appeal in a combined judicial review and constitutional claim brought by the two siblings.
Brian and Sasha Seepersad had challenged their detention at the Youth Training Centre and the Women’s Prison, and were successful at the High Court, when the judge agreed their detention, while they waited to go to trial, was unlawful and unconstitutional.
They were granted declarations and were awarded compensation.
Sasha Seepersad had been removed from the prison and taken to St Jude’s Home for Girls for roughly a month before she turned 18, when she was returned to the prison.
Brian Seepersad was initially removed from YTC, and put in a community residence controlled by the Children’s Authority. When he turned 18, he was detained at the YTC.
He was one of five YTC inmates who escaped in October 2019. The police shot and killed him in March last year at a house in Second Caledonia, Morvant. Police said Seepersad shot at them.
In 2018, the Court of Appeal overturned Justice Vasheist Kokaram’s decision, dismissing significant portions of his decision, including the monetary compensation awarded to the two.
In their ruling, the Law Lords considered the provisions of the Bail Act, which prohibits granting bail for murder, and the Children Act, which says a court cannot order a child to be detained at an adult prison and which established community residences.
The siblings’ mother, Karen Mohammed, who filed the case on her children’s behalf on Wednesday wrote to the AG about his public criticisms and through a freedom of information request, asked why the State did not settle the matter when the claim was filed to save both sides the legal expenses they had to spend. She also wants to know, having lost at the High Court, why did the AG appeal the decision to incur further legal costs and why did it chose to defend the appeal at the Privy Council instead of settling the matter.
She further asked for copies of all invoices (paid and unpaid) that have been submitted by the attorneys retained by the State in the High Court, Court of Appeal and Privy Council.
The letter and the request was sent by attorney Jayanti Lutchmedial, an opposition senator who was also part of the legal team for the siblings.
Lutchmedial and the AG were also engaged in a war of words over her presence as part of the legal team in the bail for murder claim filed by a former murder accused.
“My client’s request is made pursuant to Section 13 of the Freedom of Information Act Chapter 22:02. I trust that our client’s request will be expeditiously dealt with in conformity with Section 15 of the Freedom of Information Act which states that all public authorities shall take reasonable steps to inform the applicant of a decision on his request as soon as practicable but in any event within thirty (30) days from when the request was duly made,” Lutchmedial wrote on behalf of Mohammed.