In May of 2008 the Learned Chief Justice (ag.) Ian Chang granted bail in the sum of $200,000 with surety to Hemchand Persaud who was facing a charge of murder allegedly committed on the 2nd April, 2000.
The Chief Justice’s ruling was made in a constitutional motion filed by the accused in 2007 by which be alleged that his right to trial within a reasonable time, enshrined in article 144 (1) of the Guyana Constitution, was breached.
At the time of the ruling by the Chief Justice more than seven years had expired and the Preliminary Inquiry into the charge had not yet commenced.
On the available evidence the Chief Justice found that the right contained in Article 144 (1) was infringed and instead of ordering a stay or dismissal of the charge, he granted bail as he was constrained to do under article: 1.39 (4) of the constitution which states that if a trial is not held within a reasonable time an accused shall be placed on bail.
Subsequent to the Chief Justice’s ruling some persons, including lawyers and Government functionaries, criticised the ruling as being without any legal foundation. Those criticisms were unfounded and devoid of any merit as the Chief Justice’s ruling foreshadowed the recent ruling of the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ) in an appeal it heard from the Barbados Court of Appeal in Frank Errol Gibson vs. The Attorney General of Barbados: CCJ Appeal No. I of 2010. Gibson’s decision was delivered on the 16th August, 2010. It can he found at www.caribbeancourtof justice.org
Gibson was charged with murder allegedly committed in 2002 and in circumstances similar to the case of Hemohand Persaud the Caribbean Court of Justice placed Gibson on bail even though he was facing a charge of murder.
The Caribbean Court of Justice’s ruling came about as a result of the delay in the State commencing the trial of Gibson within a reasonable time under constitutional provisions identical to our Articles 144 (1),
It is apposite that the Caribbean Court of justice is the highest Court for Guyana and its rulings are binding upon the local Courts.
I trust that those persons who were critical of the Chief Justice’s ruling would do the decent thing and retract their criticisms.
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