Nov 04, 2008 News
…Lawyers now say wrong man in custody
Embattled businessman Barry Dataram yesterday made yet another court appearance, this time before Magistrate Hazel Octive-Hamilton. Yesterday’s hearing came after both the defence and the prosecution had made submissions to Justice Roxanne George-Wiltshire, last Monday in the High Court. The submissions which the defence tendered have since being overruled by the judge.
At the start of yesterday’s deliberations, the presiding magistrate, Ms Hazel Octive-Hamilton, stated that she is in possession of an order to proceed with the extradition hearing of Barry Dataram. She further told the court that she was given this authority by the Minister of Home Affairs, Clement Rohee.
This was supported by the Director of Public Prosecutions, Shalimar Ali Hack, who said that the magistrate is acting within her jurisdiction.
Lead attorney for Dataram, Vic Puran, told the court that after his submissions were rejected, he filed an Order Nisi. This order would be heard tomorrow before Chief Justice Ian Chang and Justice William Ramlal. The attorney said that he is of the view that his matter would be discharged.
Puran posited that since the minister has purported the issuance of giving the magistrate authority to proceed with the extradition hearing, the prisoner is proceeding cautiously.
The lawyer continued by asking the court: “why is this Government killing themselves to extradite Dataram, when the US is yet to send back (Luis Posada) to Barbados?”
He said that he was before Justice Rishi Persaud and he filed three Orders Nisi, and they were all “unhappily refused.” He further noted that Mr. Dataram is exercising his rights.
The lawyer noted the DPP is depending on an erroneous judgment, and it is being canvassed by the state. Vic Puran stated that the decision is founded in better logic and laws of the high court.
He further told the court that there is judicial pronouncement that a treaty, which the US and Guyana signed does not make prohibition of an extradition. He noted that the treaty was signed in 1931. He said that the treaty has no provision for the extradition of a “surrendered fugitive”.
The lawyer told the court that with regards to the matter before the magistrate and the Attorney General, the AG made an appearance on behalf of the magistrate.
He further told the court that the issue is that the magistrate caused the wrongful detention of Dataram on December 14, 2007 and December 21, 2007. He noted that this matter has being pronounced on in the High Court, and the only thing is the quantum of damages.
Puran said that doing this, if his client is extradited to the US, he would not be able to testify. According to the lawyer this is a case of automatic exclusion.
The Director of Public Prosecutions noted that the defence made three submissions and none has “legal merit”. She said that the minister gave Magistrate Octive-Hamilton full jurisdiction to proceed with the matter. She further noted that there is no order from the High Court prohibiting the magistrate from proceeding with the extradition matter.
She added that “more particularly” if you look at the submissions that are made by Puran, they have no legal merit. Puran interjected and told the court that a court has pronounced that the provisional warrant was “void,” and that his client has suffered a huge injustice.
The DPP rebutted and told the court that the magistrate has no right to extradite Dataram, or any other fugitive that is wanted. She noted that the magistrate can only order his committal to the prisons, adding that it is only the minister who can extradite the fugitive. She therefore urged the magistrate to proceed with the extradition hearing.
The presiding magistrate then overruled the submissions which were made by Vic Puran. She added that the defence is merely seeking a delay in the proceedings.
At this point, defence attorney Vic Puran declared that the person who is in custody is not Barry Dataram. He told the court that the US issued a warrant for a “Dataran” and his client is Dataram. He said that the names differ.
The DPP then called for the first witness, the Director of Foreign Affairs, Ms Elisabeth Harper. The matter was adjourned to Monday.
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