By ANDRE BAGOO Wednesday, August 1 2007
MAGISTRATE Ejenny Espinet yesterday refused to recuse (step down) herself from the Integrity retrial of former Prime Minister Basdeo Panday, saying there was not enough circumstances to disqualify her on the basis of “apparent bias.”
Both the defence and prosecution had asked the magistrate to recuse herself. Lead prosecutor Sir Timothy Cassel QC argued that because Espinet was also presiding in another matter in which Panday is charged (the Piarco III bribery inquiry) she would have been exposed to overlapping evidence.
Panday had been convicted of failing to declare a NatWest Bank account to the Integrity Commission. But on March 20, the Court of Appeal quashed his conviction on the basis of apparent (not actual) bias on the part of Chief Magistrate Sherman Mc Nicolls.
A retrial was ordered, but Panday will be going to the Privy Council in an attempt to block it, on October 4.
The charge in the Piarco III inquiry concerns itself with bribes allegedly paid into a London bank account in relation to the Piarco Airport project.
As Panday sat in the prisoners’ dock yesterday, Espinet gave three reasons why she was not recusing herself. Noting the heavy workload of the Magistrates’ Courts, she said the decision to recuse herself would be “a serious one” as it would set precedent for other matters, especially given the “inevitable” situation whereby magistrates often preside over several matters involving the same litigant.
However, she expressed the view that the “proper exercise of the judicial functions of (a) Magistrate” should not easily be brought into question and that as such recusal should only occur in specific circumstances.
She furthermore added that in the Piarco III inquiry, she presided over evidence adduced at the preliminary inquiry level, not the trial level. The evidentiary thresholds in such matters she said were markedly different.
“I cannot accede to the request to recuse myself,” she told lawyers yesterday in the Port-of-Spain First Magistrates’ Court.
She set the matter to October 15, two weeks after the Panday matter comes up before the Privy Council “out of an abundance of caution.”
Now think carefully and ask some questions here kiddo.
Why the fock Manning in haste to run the CJ out of office ?
Asshole, so he could strategically place certain Magistrates and Judges to hear certain matters. And that is why the put the PNM Roger Hamel Smith to act as CJ.
Also note that both the prosecution and defence requested that she recused herself... but apparently she have she own agenda.