Aug 25, 2010 News
– confirms cases being dropped because of financial settlements
By Michael Jordan
Magistrate Fazil Azeez yesterday confirmed that he and other magistrates have been discontinuing some causing death by dangerous driving cases after financial settlements were made to the victims’ families.
But he said that the magistrates do not have unrestricted authority to do so, and he also explained some of the factors behind such decisions.
Magistrate Azeez said that in many cases, the attorney, rather than the accused, informs the magistrate that the parties have settled the matter. According to Azeez, he would then attempt to ensure that the victim’s relative has not been forced to take this action.
“I would put them in the witness box to ensure that they have not been coerced or brow-beaten.”
He said that if the relative confirms that the settlement was voluntary, he would request the prosecutor to send the matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
“When a person approaches and says ‘we settle it, we pay compensation, sometimes…the DPP would say it’s the magistrate’s call’. “When the DPP is non-committal you do the job… when I establish that the family doesn’t want to proceed, then I strike out the matter.”
According to the magistrate, in cases where the parties have settled, it would be futile for a magistrate to attempt to continue the matter, since the parties involved would be uncooperative.
“When someone dies (in an accident), a relative or eyewitness would have to come, when they don’t come it’s an exercise in judicial futility (to attempt to continue the matter).”
“You proceed with the matter, the lawyer (for the accused) ties up the police…eyewitnesses don’t come…some police take bribe to give false measurements. It’s better they pay the family and let the family get something.”
He also complained that magistrates are remanding some drivers in causing death matters only to see them be granted bail in the High Court.
Magistrate Azeez also suggested that some of these cases are thwarted by poor police investigation and corrupt traffic ranks, whom he claimed would sometimes provide false information in favour of the accused.
Occasionally, Azeez said, he has had “to destroy police on the stand.”
“I say ‘you are here to lie.’”
“My gut feeling is that sixty percent of the policemen who are on the job for three, four years have a minibus on the road.”
“The police don’t do their work. Even if the people go to trial, the police are ill prepared.”
And he also opined that the charge of causing death by dangerous driving should be changed to one of involuntary homicide, and even to murder.
“I think that they should up the offence to manslaughter…they need to stop charging for causing death by dangerous driving…and (charge) for manslaughter and for involuntary homicide.”
“Another view is that if a motorist knows he should not drink and drive… and drinks and drives…and drives recklessly on the road and hits someone… I am of the view that he must have understood the circumstances of his actions…the man should be charged with murder or at least manslaughter…
“If you drink till you are to the hilt and you cause the death of someone …then you must suffer the consequences of your actions.
“Murder is not bailable and they can’t go to the High Court for bail.”
In its Sunday edition, Kaieteur News had highlighted several cases in which drivers from affluent families had their cases dismissed after compensating the relatives of persons they had killed on the roadways.
In the court cases uncovered, six of the victims were children between the ages of seven and 17. A seventh case involved a young mother.
All the families, except one, admitted to having accepted money from the families of the errant drivers.
The ‘compensation packages’ ranged from $5M for the death of the young mother, $600,000 for the death of an eight-year-old girl, and $300,000 for a seven-year-old girl killed on a pedestrian crossing.
Some of the victims’ relatives said that they opted for compensation after because they had no faith in the judicial system.
Aranka gang for court soon
Detectives are putting the finishing touches to their investigations into the operations of the five-man Aranka gang, with a view to instituting charges soon.
Kaieteur News understands that investigators are in the process of taking statements from several Brazilians who were victims of a robbery spree allegedly committed by the gang.
This newspaper was told that all of the males hail from the East Coast Demerara Village of Ann’s Grove, while the lone female’s address is listed as Alexander Village in the city.
The reign of terror created by the gang came to an abrupt end with the group’s capture on Saturday.
The gang was nabbed when a police riverain patrol intercepted them while they were apparently making their way out of the interior, after creating havoc the previous day.They were not carrying any weapons at the time of their capture.
Following their capture, a team of investigators travelled to the area where the gang was believed to be hiding out with a view to recovering the weapons that were used in the robberies. However, except for a shotgun which was located in an abandoned camp, they came up empty handed.
It is not yet clear if the recovered shotgun was part of the gang’s arsenal.
According to a source, one of the gang members related that he had sold his weapon, while another claimed that he had rented a gun to ply his trade.
The gang had reportedly committed several brazen armed robberies in the Aranka area, targeting several gold mining camps and shops. While they have not ruled it out, police are still now trying to establish if the gang was responsible for any of the several murders in the interior.
According to a source at the Bartica Police Station, three of the suspects have already confessed to the robberies.
At least two of the gang members are convicted felons. One of them was only released from prison in May this year.
School of the Nations impressive at IGCSE exams
A total of 322 examinations, in 21 subjects, were written at school at School of the Nations in the Cambridge University IGCSE examinations in May. The overall passes rate was 80%.
In Environmental Management, Geography, Literature, Physical Education, Spanish, and Travel and Tourism the pass rate was 100%. The pass rate was 90% in English Language and 96% in Computer Studies and Biology. More than 32% of all examinations written were given an ‘A’ or ‘B’ grade. Amongst the outstanding performers were; Osei McKenzie with 10 subjects including 1 distinction, 4 A’s and 3 B’s; Shefali Holder – 9 subjects including 1 distinction, 2 A’s and 3 B’s; Kathy Mohamed – 7 subjects including 1 distinction, 2 A’s and 4 B’s; Serejej Stammes – 4 distinctions and 1 B; Kester Daniels – 8 subjects including 1 distinction, 2 A’s and 1 B; Ryan Fraser – 9 subjects, including 2 A’s and 2 B’s; Pritipaul Singh – 8 subjects, including 3 A’s and 3 B’s; Raphael St Hill – 6 subjects, including 2 A’s and 2 B’s; Sheik Amir – 6 subjects , including 1 A and 4 B’s and Milton Urquhart – 6 subjects, including 1 distinction and 2 B’s.
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