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Benschop jumps the queue - legal sources

The Guyana Police Force has responded to an inquiry by the Attorney General on the statement by Prosecutor Nyasha Williams. The prosecutor operates out of Justice Moore's court.

Mark Benschop

Justice Moore himself had been asked to comment on whether or not because of the failure to locate witnesses, the treason trial of Mark Benschop was next in the chronological order in Justice Moore's list of cases.

AG questions whether Benschop trial jumped queue

The DPP had indicated in a letter of October 18 to the Attorney General that Justice Moore had indicated that Benschop's case was second on his list according to the chronological order. Justice Moore subsequently informed the court that he was proceeding with Benschop's matter since he was informed by the prosecutor, “that in relation to matters on his list save Benschop matter, the accused could not be contacted.”

Some of the accused, such as Troy Dick, had become fugitives while others were considered “difficult circumstances” in that witnesses could not be located or that depositions had disappeared.

Kaieteur News has learnt that following the intervention of the Police Commissioner, through the inquiry of the Attorney-General, the witnesses for other cases listed on Justice Moore's court are to appear in court.

This should mean that given the ruling of Justice Jainarayan Singh that trials must be processed within a chronological arrangement, the presence of these witnesses would mean that the trials could be proceeded with.

One case that could be started is that of manslaughter accused Roy Mc Arthur. A source told Kaieteur that the DPP's office was ready to proceed with this case even though the deposition was missing.

A legal contact has informed the newspaper that it is not an insurmountable problem since copies of the deposition could be arranged. According to the police file, the witnesses are to be provided to attend court.

Mc Arthur's case is number 11 on Justice Moore's order of trials. Another manslaughter accused, Anthony Robertson, is number 12 and the matter, too, could be heard.

The case of Jermaine Fingal at number 14, for throwing a destructive substance with intent could get going. So too is the case involving Ronald Faria charged with two counts of incest. He is number 15 on Justice Moore's list.

Cort Blackman who has been committed for rape is number 20. The police witness is available.

Another rape accused could go on trial in Justice Moore's court because the police witness is available.

His name appears before Benschop on Justice Moore's list.

However, these matters have not been proceeded with. Until recently, the witnesses could not be located causing the Supreme Court registrar to write to the DPP informing her that money was no problem and that no stone should be left unturned to procure the witnesses.

But one source told Kaieteur News that the matter of trials is now solely up to the judge. He said that the only thing that could halt the Benschop trial would be the nature of the appeal currently before the Guyana Court of Appeal. Mr. Benjamin Gibson has filed an appeal on Benschop's behalf.

If the appeal has to do with Benschop's detention then the situation could arise where the Appeal Court votes to free Benschop while the High Court rules that he is guilty. The Appeal Court is superior to the High Court.

The source said that if the appeal is not a constitutional motion then in all circumstances the judge would go ahead with the trial today.

Sunday, November 14, 2004