A Biche farmer will receive compensation after police made him take off his clothes and squat in full view of the public in 2012.
In a recent ruling, Justice Joan Charles ordered the State to pay a total of $295,000 in compensation to Franklyn Ali and interest on the sum at the rate of 3.5 per cent from January 10, 2019-May 20, 2022, for malicious prosecution.
Ali’s case was that, on June 27, 2012, at about 9 am, he was walking to his garden in Plum Mitan when three marked police vehicles stopped. He was ordered to stop by the officers who then arrested and handcuffed him without telling him why.
At the time, Ali was wearing only short pants and underwear. His evidence was he was made to take off his clothes by one of the officers and squat. When he protested, he was slapped in the face several times. The officers then pulled down his pants and underwear and handcuffed him. He was forced to squat and was strip-searched. Nothing illegal was found. After the search, he asked if he could leave and one of the officers told him to wait, he had something to give him. The officer then taunted him, daring him to run while also telling him, “You know how long I want to shoot you.”
Ali was taken to the Biche police station where he was kept in a urine-soaked cell with five other prisoners. At lunchtime, he was again searched and his sunglasses and $200 were taken from him and never returned.
When told he was being taken to the Sangre Grande police station, he questioned the officers one of whom took out a quantity of marijuana wrapped in plastic from a police jeep and told him, “all this is yours.”
At the other station, he was again put in a cell which smelled and was infested with cockroaches. Ali was eventually charged with possession of marijuana and when he first appeared in the magistrates’ court, he was denied bail. After being remanded for four months, he was granted bail and over two years attended court before the matter was dismissed in January 2015, because the officer who charged him did not appear in court.
In its defence, the State denied Ali’s claims, insisting he was held while tending to a marijuana plant.
The charging officer admitted to breaching police standing orders by not submitting a file to the prosecutor in the matter nor could he say how many times he went to court or if the matter was fixed for trial. He also admitted to having been disciplined by the police service for his failure in the conduct of the case.
The judge said his evidence contracted his defence and witness statement. Another officer also testified at the trial.
“I must state at the outset that I did not find the witnesses for the defendant to be either credible or reliable,” she said as she assessed the evidence of both sides.
“I expected these police officers to produce the documents, notations and extracts which they are required to make and create in the course of the proper execution of their duty by their standing orders, and which would be important in establishing reasonable and probable cause for the arrest and prosecution of the claimant and the absence of malice which the claimant asserts.”
She said there was no aspect of the police’s evidence that could be relied on to support the defence, singling out the charging officer’s failure to prosecute the case or his lying about not attending court when the case was dismissed.
Charles also said it emerged at the trial before her that one of the other officers was also involved in another unsuccessful prosecution of Ali.
“In my view their conduct reveals that this prosecution was instituted for an oblique/illegitimate motive; they deliberately fabricated this case against the claimant by falsely asserting that he was in possession of marijuana for the purpose of trafficking as alleged by the claimant.”
Ali was represented by attorneys Lemuel Murphy and Abigail Roach while Janine Joseph and Trisha Ramlogan represented the State.