Tuesday 6th March, 2007

 

State vs Sharma

 
 
 
 
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Embattled Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma arrives at Port-of-Spain Magistrates’ Court yesterday.
Photo: Wendy-Ann Duncan


AG: It’s up to DPP

Ag John Jeremie

By Shaliza Hassanali

ATTORNEY GENERAL John Jeremie says the State’s dropping of the case against embattled Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma is a clear indication that the time has come when one set of proceedings will soon take precedence over another.

Jeremie was speaking to the media yesterday before the start of the party’s general council meeting at Balisier House in Port-of-Spain, when he said:

I do know—and which is public knowledge—is that there are impeachment proceedings in contemplation.”

Jeremie said Prime Minister Patrick Manning had written to the CJ in exercise of his powers under Section 137 of the Constitution.

The CJ has to reply to the Prime Minister in relation to Section 137 soon, and the time would have come, when perhaps, one set of proceedings would have had to take precedence over another.

This might have played into the matrix as to whether or not to go forward with these proceedings, the fact that there are other proceedings afoot.

And the question that has to be answered is where can the CJ get justice, where can he get justice swiftly, where can he get justice before his peers.”

Jeremie said it was widely- reported in the media “by some who are accusing the State of being oppressive to have the CJ before two tribunals.”

The AG said he made no decisions to prosecute, when to prosecute, when to withdraw prosecutions, and when to discontinue and stay.

He said this was clearly contemplated by the Privy Council itself in the Sharma case last year, when it proceeded with both matters at the same time, when really one complaint before two separate tribunals would have been oppressive.

Insisting that he’s yet to receive a transcript of the case, Jeremie said he did not control the actions of the DPP.

Manning, asked for a comment on the matter as he arrived at yesterday’s general council meeting, said:

No comment.” He promised to comment after the meeting ended some four hours later.


Sharma:

Case far from over

By Jada Loutoo

CHIEF Justice Satnarine Sharma yesterday vowed his case was far from over, but wouldn’t say much about it because of possible impeachment proceedings still hanging over his head.

In a surprise move yesterday, the prosecution abandoned its criminal case against Sharma, two days before he was expected to reply to similar complaints by Mc Nicolls to Prime Minister Patrick Manning in the newest move to impeach.

Manning, two weeks ago, informed Sharma of his decision to resume proceedings under Section 137 of the Constitution, synchronous to the criminal prosecution and predicated on Mc Nicolls’ complaints.

Sharma’s lawyers are still to say what is their next move.

“We now have to get together and discuss what has happened and will decide on what steps we deem may be necessary,” one of Sharma’s lawyers said yesterday.


...thanks those who prayed

By Prior Beharry

Chief Justice Satnarine Sharma had a visibly-relieved look as he sat at his home in Fairways, Maraval, yesterday.

Sitting next to a poinsettia plant—still sporting red leaves—in his patio with a panoramic view of the city of Port-of-Spain, Sharma was mum when questioned directly about the Director of Public Prosecution's dropping the criminal charge against him.

All Sharma would say when the Guardian visited him was that he wanted to thank all the people who prayed for him during his ordeal.

“I want to thank all those who have prayed for me, who have offered words of encouragement.

“Most of them are unknown to me. They write me; some of them telephone me, while others meet me on the streets.

“These are the people who have kept me going. I am grateful to all of them.”

One police officer manned the guard booth that led to Sharma’s home.

The area was quiet, unlike the buzz of activity on the evening of July 14, 2006, when police went to his home to serve Sharma with a warrant to charge him.


Time line

  • April 1, 2005—Prime Minister Manning announces in Parliament a decision to advise President Richards to set up a tribunal to investigate whether CJ Satnarine Sharma should be removed from office.
  • April 13, 2005—Sharma fires a full-scale legal attack to block the Government’s investigation of his actions in office on allegations that he attempted to induce DPP Geoffrey Henderson and AG John Jeremie to drop a murder charge against Dr Vijay Naraynsingh.
  • The latter was subsequently cleared of the charges.
  • April 16, 2005—President Richards announces decision to hold his hand on appointing a three-member tribunal to investigate Sharma’s actions in office.
  • October 25, 2005—Matter enters mediation stage before the judicial review application filed by Sharma.
  • January, 2006—Mediation talks break down.
  • May 5, 2006—Chief Magistrate Sherman McNicolls complains that Sharma tried to influence his decision in the Basdeo Panday trial.
  • May 8, 2006—Sharma writes to Judicial and Legal Services Commission, complaining that Mc Nicolls used his position to have the land deal settled in his favour and that he maliciously lied to Prime Minister Manning after he was confronted on the transaction by Sharma.
  • May 10, 2006—Sharma alleges Manning issued him an ultimatum: resign or be charged.
  • May 11, 2006—Sharma files judicial review proceedings, blocking any further proceedings against him under Section 137. Manning says he will not recommend to the President the question of removing Sharma, unless he is satisfied there is a prima facie basis in fact to warrant such an investigation.
  • May 11, 2006—The police begin investigations into Mc Nicolls’ allegations. ACP Wellington Virgil is appointed to head the probe. Police search Sharma's office days later.
  • June, 2006—JLSC appoints Justice Humphrey Stollmeyer to investigate Sharma’s allegations against McNicolls. McNicolls is eventually cleared of any wrongdoing by the Judicial and Legal Service Commission.
  • July 10, 2006—Sharma fires pre-emptive strike, temporarily blocking criminal charges from being laid against him arising out of McNicolls’ complaint.
  • July 14, 2006—Police unsucessfully attempt to arrest Sharma at his Fairways, Maraval, home. Criminal charges are laid against him.
  • July 28, 2006—Sharma is suspended and Justice Roger Hamel Smith appointed to act as CJ until determination of all legal proceedings involving the complaint by McNicolls.
  • July 31, 2006—Court of Appeal rules in State’s favour and paves the way for Sharma’s arrest by lifting a series of injunctions granted by a High Court judge. He appeals to the London Privy Council.
  • September 19, 2006—Sharma's lawyers withdraw lawsuit which sought to block any further proceedings against him under Section 137, as it relates to McNicolls’ complaint. His lawyers say it will not be in the interest of justice to have different courts pronounce on the same application.
  • November 30, 2006—London Privy Council rules against Sharma and he gives himself up to the police.
  • January, 2007—Justice Carlton Best orders several high-ranking office-holders to testify at Sharma’s impeachment case. They include Sharma, Manning, AG Jeremie, Appeal Court judges Stanley John and Roger Hamel-Smith (who is now acting as Chief Justice) and DPP Henderson. Five days in May have been set aside for CX.
  • February 26, 2007—Criminal prosecution against Sharma begins before Senior Magistrate Lianne Lee Kim.
  • March 5, 2007—Prosecution abandons case against Sharma after McNicolls indicates he is no longer willing to testify.

 


Lawyers say Mc Nicolls must quit

Sherman Mc Nicolls

The Criminal Bar Association is calling for the immediate resignation of Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls, based on his refusal to give evidence in the case against former Chief Justice Sat Sharma.

The case against the CJ was dropped on advice of lead attorney for the prosecution Gilbert Peterson.

Mc Nicolls, who had previously said he would not be available for cross-examination in the matter, blatantly refused to give evidence yesterday.

The announcement was made in Port-of-Spain Magistrate’s 4A Court before Senior Magistrate Lianne Lee Kim.

Vice president of the association Nizam Mohammed said in a statement yesterday that Mc Nicolls’ refusal to “face the test of cross-examination in a court of Law makes his own position as a judicial officer untenable.”

The association also called for Sharma’s immediate reinstatement.

 

 

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