to appeal retrial
The lion is back.
And yesterdays Appeal Court verdict is timely for
the UNC to move forward to win the next election.
Those were the words of Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar
as UNC leader Basdeo Panday expressed vindication at yesterdays
Panday exited the Hall of Justice at around 2.45 pm in a
much lighter mood than when he had exited the Magistrates
Court in April, when the verdict was handed down against
him in his Integrity Commission matter.
But yesterday, Justice Margot Warner set aside that first
conviction against Panday and she ordered a retrial under
a different magistrate.
Warner cited proprietal bias as the basis, where the evidence
of Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls was concerned in
the integrity case.
Lawyers for both sides projected the matter would get under
But Persad-Bissessar warned yesterday that the UNC would
appeal any retrial even before the latter got under way.
Panday, swamped by reporters and flashing camera lights
outside the Hall of Justice, said he did, indeed, feel vindicated
by the verdict.
With happy wife Oma at his side, daughter Mikela at another
and brother Subhas at one end, Panday added:
case was all based on political persecution and all the
facts have not come out in this matter
but in the course
of time they will.
also want to tell those who felt I would have ended up in
prisonas they might have felt this was the only way
their careers would have advancedI want to tell them:
sorry, next time, he said.
always known Almighty God would not rest on my shoulders
a burden heavier than I could ever bear.
want to thank the hundreds and thousands who have been praying
for me in this
I thank my attorneys, many of whom worked
long and hard hours, many of them pro bono. I thank my family
and more so my daughter Mikela in her capacity as lawyer
any father would have been exceedingly
thank my friends and supporters inside and outside the party
for standing by me during this trial.
On what impact the verdict would have on his political future
and whether he would continue in politics, Panday said:
40 years Ive devoted my life to serving people to
make their lives better, and Im too old to turn back
Persad Bissessar said: The timing of the verdict is
Were into an election year.
Government has showed it will use everything it can to put
obstacles in the way of our leader
But the lion is
back, the lion is back, she said.
exceedingly happy that justice has been done. We always
knew Mr Panday was being persecuted and prosecuted unjustly
and there was a conspiracy and bias in the matter and only
a matter of time before it righted itself.
Persad-Bissessar and Subhas both said a retrial could never
the Chief Magistrate be appointing the magistrate for retrial?
any event, the process will be appealed before it even reaches
Several UNC supporters outside the Hall of Justice were
jubilant about Pandays verdict.
State attorney Sir Timothy Cassell, QC, left the Hall of
Justice refusing to speak with the media.
Also present on the scene were representatives from the
Attorney Generals department.
mum on verdict
PNM is refusing to comment on yesterdays ruling by
the Court of Appeal that upheld the appeal of UNC interim
leader Basdeo Panday and quashed his conviction and jail
sentence for failing to declare a London bank account.
In a release yesterday by PNMs public relations officer
Jerry Narace, the PNM stated the judicial system was set
up in such a way that prevented prosecutions from being
PNM applauds and respects the doctrine of separation of
powers, the rule of law and principle of due process,
the release stated, adding that criminal prosecutions were
brought by the State through the office of the Director
of Public Prosecutions.
The ruling party sought to remind the public that the investigation
into Pandays matter was launched by Ramesh Lawrence
Maharaj, SC, who incidentally was now Pandays lead
matter ought not to be viewed as political, the release
The PNM also noted that the Court of Appeal had ordered
Opposition United National Congress (UNC) will receive a
political boost as a result of yesterdays Court of
Appeal verdict in favour of UNC leader Basdeo Panday, Congress
of the Peoples (COP) Ganga Singh said yesterday.
Singh spoke minutes after the verdict was delivered at the
Hall of Justice yesterday.
The integrity case conviction against Panday was set aside
and a retrial ordered under a new magistrate.
Singh said: In the same way that the UNC suffered
when Mr Panday was convicted, the party will now receive
a bounce as a result of the current Court of Appeal decision.
the circumstances that arose at the end of the trial, it
is a fair decision by the Court of Appeal
But the retrial
and other matters Mr Panday has in the court loom overhead,
he said. GA
free to face poll
way is now clear for United National Congress (UNC) leader
Basdeo Panday to contest a seat in a general election. But
he cannot get back his Couva North seat in Parliament immediately.
He must face another poll.
This was made clear by Parliament officials following claims
yesterday that the Court of Appeal verdict had opened the
way for Panday to go back into Parliament and immediately
reclaim his Couva North seat.
The Couva North seat was declared vacant last year after
Panday declined to seek an extension for leave while his
trial was ongoing. Under law, in an election year a seat
remains vacant until an election is called.
Yesterday, Parliament officials said Panday could not regain
the seat except through an election.
But they confirmed that since the conviction against him
was quashed by the Appeal Court yesterday, he was eligible
to contest an election and fight for the seat again, even
though he has another matter in court.
It is only if he was convicted again on the integrity matter
or was convicted on the other matter would he be ineligible
to contest an election for a seat, Parliament officials
In a TG public affairs column two Saturdays ago, UNC leadership
officials said they were holding off screening election
nominees for Couva North until the Court of Appeals
They said the decision was taken following the move by Chief
Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls to forego evidence in the
criminal case against Chief Justice Sat Sharma, in which
Sharma was accused of attempting to influence Pandays
The criminal case against Sharma subsequently collapsed.
UNCs screening resumes at months end.
UNC officials, when asked if Panday would be nominated to
contest Couva North again, asked in response: What
Congress of the Peoples Hulsie Bhaggan will be fighting
that seat for the new party, while PNMs nominees include
a Couva businessman. GA
prime minister Basdeo Panday has been before the courts
since 2002, when the three charges were laid against him
under the Integrity in Public Life Act 1987.
He was charged with knowingly making a false declaration
of income and assets for the respective years December
31, 1997, 1999 and 1998, contrary to the Integrity in
Public Life Act 1987.
Since his first appearance in court on November 19, 2002,
the case had been adjourned as the politicians lawyers
sought time to challenge the validity of the charges against
Panday had filed several lawsuits and also petitioned
the Privy Council challenging Chief Magistrate Sherman
Mc Nicolls decision to go ahead with the matter.
In February 2006, the Law Lords threw out his appeal and
Mc Nicolls fixed March 20 that same year for the start
of the matter.
The summary trial was heard in one week and foreign witnesses
were on hand to testify for the prosecution.
Upon conviction, he was also fined $20,000 on each charge
and was ordered to pay to the State the amount equivalent
to that allegedly held in the bank account.
He also lost his Couva North seat in Parliament.