AG questions whether Benschop trial jumped queue
Saturday, December 18th 2004
Attorney-General, Doodnauth Singh wrote to the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) after the Mark Benschop treason trial commenced, questioning the actions of trial judge, Justice Winston Moore and the Director of Public Prosecutions, Roxanne George.
Citing the recent order of Justice Jainaryan Singh Jr, which said accused persons should be tried in the chronological order of the date of their committals, or otherwise ordered by a judge, the AG asked the JSC to inquire into the matter, which he suggested was in defiance of Justice Singh's order
The letter that was sent during the proceedings before Justice Moore, noted that Benschop's matter was listed at No.43 on the list of matters for trial before Justice Moore, adding that eight of those persons were listed as being in custody.
According to the AG, his information was that Justice Moore was advised that there were special difficulties in relation to five persons who had to be brought from the interior, together with the witnesses. He said that he was aware that the Registrar of the Supreme Court wrote to the DPP advising her that she had secured funds (which were available) to bring the accused and witnesses from the interior and to provide for their accommodation in George-town. Singh noted that a number of accused persons on Justice Moore's list were also identified.
"There seems to have been no serious attempt to get these accused before the Court and if they could not be found to have their bail forfeited to the State and warrants for their arrest to be issued. The result is that in breach of the order of Justice Jainaryan Singh and without any application having been made, stating special circumstances which may have been consistent with the order of Justice Jainaryan Singh, the case against Mark Benschop has commenced," he stated.
The AG said he is aware that Justice Moore and the DPP are both familiar with the judgement of Justice Singh and, "ought to have acted consistent with the judgement".
Benschop's trial ended in deadlock after eleven jurors elected to acquit him while one said he was guilty of treason. Benschop is to face a retrial.