Mar 12, 2013 News
Defendant in the Bharrat Jagdeo libel suit, Fredrick Kissoon, was having a hard time accepting and answering questions yesterday, when lawyer for the plaintiff Bernard De Santos (SC), put certain questions to him pertaining to his dismissal from the University of Guyana (UG).
As a result of Kissoon’s continued “philosophical” explanations and “difficulty with answering questions in monosyllabic words”, as Justice Brassington Reynolds had put it, the matter was prematurely adjourned after the judge decided that the matter could not continue on that course.
Kissoon rejected questions that were put to him by the Senior Counsel, stating that what he was being asked was incorrect, irrelevant or untrue. Yesterday saw the commencement of De Santos’s cross examination and the Judge saw that he was happy that what he saw happened in the early stage so that he could allow Kissoon’s lawyers to explain to him what he should do at this stage of the case.
The case was rocky from the beginning. Kissoon and De Santos went head to head when the lawyer asked Kissoon if he was dismissed from the university. When Kissoon did not give a straight answer, De Santos yelled at the witness, charging that the answer to the question is either “yes or no”. The court had to intervene and ask De Santos to calm down.
Kissoon then agreed that he was dismissed by the university before stating that according to the document from UG, he had interpreted that his services were terminated. De Santos asked Kissoon how many times he had mentioned the word dismissed in his opening statement, before informing him (Kissoon) that he did so four times; and De Santos later highlighted it.
Arguments continued when De Santos asked Kissoon whether he had asked for his contract to be renewed. But Kissoon argued that he could not answer the question since the issue of renewing his work contract never arose. He charged that the question was irrelevant since at the time of his termination his contract still had a long way to go.
The Court then informed Kissoon that on issues of relevance, fairness and fact, it was the court’s call. But Kissoon insisted that renewing his contract never came up and the court and De Santos again expressed frustration at Kissoon’s insistence in explaining his answer instead of answering straight forward.
At one point, Kissoon even asked the court to intervene to protect his dignity when De Santos told Kissoon that he (De Santos) intended to make him very unhappy with questions he had to ask.
Questions continued with Kissoon being asked to state where he worked before the last contract he had. The former UG lecturer said prior to that, he worked at UG since he had worked at the university since September 1, 1987.
Questions then came in relation to who holds power at the university to employ lectures. Kissoon said on his behalf, UG registrar, Vincent Alexander, had signed his contract. He affirmed, when asked whether he was familiar with UG’s status, and denied De Santos’ suggestion that the registrar did not have power to sign any contracts to hire lecturers.
Kissoon said De Santos’s suggestion was untrue, since the registrar signed all contracts to hire lectures. He said at the time of his contract being signed, he was aware that the registrar was legally entitled to sign contracts to employ lecturers.
Kissoon later said when asked, that he is aware that now, the UG Council is entitled to hire lecturers. De Santos reiterated a previous question, which was whether Kissoon knew at the time of his contract being signed, that the UG Council alone had the power to hire lecturers.
Kissoon answered that he was aware that the Vice Chancellor was the one in whom that authority resided.
The answer, however, came after more bickering. Justice Reynolds then decided “enough is enough.” The Judge said that in all his years in court he never faced such a situation. The matter was adjourned until next Monday when Reynolds said he hopes that Kissoon’s lawyers would have briefed him and instructed him on how to deal with the cross examination in a court of law.
Reynolds continued that he would not want to have to take drastic steps if Kissoon does not answer the questions directly because he would deal with it by law.
Kissoon is being sued along with Kaieteur News publisher Glenn Lall and Editor-in- Chief Adam Harris for $10 million. The outspoken Kaieteur News columnist wrote in one of his columns that the former president Bharrat Jagdeo is an ideological racist.
So far, Kissoon has presented his personal study into the allegations he made. The information was tendered as evidence and Kissoon, through his lawyer Nigel Hughes, explained his process he used to reach his conclusion.
Hughes was absent yesterday and Attorney at law Christopher Ram took charge.
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