Jul 09, 2016 News
Almost five years after he was initially charged for engaging in sexual intercourse with underage boys, accused Islamic Scholar, Neezam Ali, is yet to face a trial in the High Court.
Neezaam Ali, also known as ‘Mufti’, an Imam of Lot 268 Section ‘C 5’ South, Turkeyen, Greater Georgetown, was committed to stand trial in the High Court on nine counts of engaging in sexual intercourse with boys under the age of 12 back in 2013.
Following a preliminary hearing at the Magistrates’ Court, Ali was committed to stand trial at the High Court. But, the Imam challenged the paper committal on several grounds, including a claim that the Magistrate acted in excess of his jurisdiction when he failed to consider the expert opinion of Dr. Walter Ramsahoye, who testified that it was impossible for him to commit the act, since he is impotent.
Last year, then Chief Justice (Ag) Ian Chang ruled in favour of the order for which Ali was committed to stand trial for sexually assaulting the nine boys.
However, there hasn’t been any word on the status of case since then. The mother of three of the victims has come forward expressing her frustration at the sloth in which the matter is being handled.
The woman (name given) spoke to Kaieteur News earlier this week. She told this newspaper that she has been seeking answers on the status of the case.The mother expressed fear that the case may be at a standstill. “I am afraid that the matter will be dragged out because this thing happened when my sons were small. My biggest son is 14 years old now and we ain’t hearing nothing about the case,” she said.
The woman said that she made numerous calls to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) but to no avail.
“They pushing me around. I does sell to make ends meet. I was trying to bring my children up in the right way by sending them to Masjid and that is what happened, the single mother stressed.
She claimed, too, that since she lives a short distance from the Masjid in which the Imam, who molested her son teaches, it has brought additional torment to her family.
“We does try to avoid passing the Masjid because it is not easy for my children, especially the big boy. The Imam is still teaching children there and if he see we passing he does throw he hints.”
Pressed by her need to know the status of the case, the mother recently visited the office of the Child Protection Agency, (CPA). An official of the CPA is said to have contacted the DPP for information on the matter.
According to the woman, the information conveyed by the CPA official, is that the matter is still in the system but is yet to receive a date for trial.
When Kaieteur News contacted the DPP‘s office seeking to verify the information, officers noted that the Communications Officer, is on leave and they were not at liberty to give information on the matter.
Ali, 33, was alleged to have sexually assaulted the nine boys where they usually go to take Quran and Arabic lessons from him, between December 2011 and January 2012. The virtual complainants allege that Ali had penetrative anal intercourse with them while they were minors.
The Muslim Scholar was charged with several counts of sexual activity with a child by abusing a position of trust. The preliminary inquiries into the allegations were heard before Magistrate Alex Moore at the Sparendaam Court.
In 2013 after perusing the evidence brought before him during the preliminary inquiries, Magistrate Moore found that there was sufficient reason to send Ali for High Court trial. But Ali, through his lawyer Nigel Hughes, applied to the High Court to quash the committal. Magistrate Moore had ruled that a prima facie case was made out against Ali and committed him to stand trial at the subsequent sitting of the Criminal Assizes.
Hughes’ application was made on several grounds, including that the Magistrate acted in excess of his jurisdiction when he failed to consider the expert opinion of Dr. Walter Ramsahoye, who testified that it was impossible for him to commit the act, since he is impotent.
According to court documents, Dr. Ramsahoye testified that “The individual whose physiological systems are severely compromised, cannot have sex with boy, girl, man or woman as he cannot have an erection.”
This statement was highlighted as the essence of Ali’s defence, one which the defence claimed was ignored by the prosecution and the Magistrate.
The defence had stipulated that there was no statement provided to the court to rebut the expert’s evidence, neither did the prosecution indicate or represent to the court that they intended to call any expert witness to give a rebuttal.
Responding in a sworn affidavit on behalf of Magistrate Moore, Inspector of Police Hatty David, testified that the statement laid over by the medical practitioner exceeded the specified period prescribed in paragraph (2) under the Sexual Offences Act.
Consequently, the officer further claimed that Dr. Ramsahoye’s opinion was formed from information provided by Ali, and was not one which came as result of doctors treating and attending to a medical condition, which the accused suffered, over a period of time. The officer deposed that no expert evidence was adduced by the prosecution. He denied that there was a defence, since the statement of Dr. Ramsahoye was laid over outside the statutory time limit, (some seven months after the prescribed period for doing so).
He therefore held that evidence of witness or expert is a question for the Jury.
“Although the Magistrate did not consider the statement of Dr. Ramsahoye, it was for the Jury (to consider), whether his expertise, in the matter was sufficient and if so, whether they would be prepared to accept and rely on his statement,” the respondent outlined.
Hence in a ruling dated July 31, 2015 Chief Justice, (Ag) Ian Chang upheld an order in which Islamic Scholar, Neezaam Ali, was committed to stand trial for sexually assaulting nine boys
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