Witnesses testifying at the Preliminary Inquiry, (PI) into the murder of Berbice businessman Shameer
Ali Mursalin were yesterday permitted to sign their depositions immediately after testifying before Magistrate Rabindranauth Singh.
The matter is ongoing at the Springlands Magistrate’s Court, Corentyne Berbice.
Mursalin, called ‘Kazac,’ a trader, of Grant 1805 Weld Tank Dam, Crabwood Creek, Corentyne, Berbice, was fatally shot to the head on October 24, 2015.
Businessman Dennis Veerasammy and two of his employees, Basheer Harrinauth and Delroy Fraser, are before the court for the murder.
The matter caught the attention of Kaieteur News after relatives of the murdered businessman reported that the Magistrate’s had adjourned the case without re-reading the evidence and allowing the main witness of the trial to review and sign his deposition. The relatives expressed fear that there is a deliberate ploy to sabotage the case.
When contacted by this newspaper several top ranking officials of the Judiciary, had expressed the view that the Magistrate erred.
One official noted it is considered good practice, because of the legal pitfalls, for the evidence to be read over and signed by the witness as soon as possible.
“If something should happen to the witness, the uncertified information is not valid. Furthermore, if there is a lapse of time in certifying the record, it can be problematic and eventually be discredited,” the official said.
At the last hearing, the Magistrate responded to the reports questioning his conduct. He argued that the law does not specify a time limit by which depositions are signed.
“It could be signed at any time before the accused are called to lead their defence,” Singh explained.
“I do that all the time. There is nothing wrong with it,” he asserted.
The visibly upset Magistrate then ejected members of the public, including a Kaieteur News reporter, from his courtroom. That hearing was held in camera (privately).
The continuation of the PI was nevertheless, held in open court yesterday. During the proceedings, the Magistrate recorded the evidence of two witnesses. He then re-read the information to the witnesses before allowing them to sign the depositions, immediately following their testimonies.
The witnesses included Jagdeo Ramdass and Hallimoon Lallman, a relative of the deceased. Another witness, Bishram Deodat, was also called to the stand to be cross examined. He was however ordered to return to court at a later date since Attorney-at-Law Chandra Sohan, was not present.
Magistrate Singh noted that Counsel for number one accused (Veersammy) has indicated he is “not sure,” if he will be providing further representation for the accused in the matter. The witness murmured at the news. He noted that he had been coming to the court on numerous occasions.
“Who gun pay me fuh come here all this time,” he grumbled.
Sohan, who is also a former Magistrate, had indicated that he was not pleased with the negative publicity that the trial is generating. He emphatically stated that he never had any knowledge of any wrongdoing in the trial.
As such, the lawyer stated that he was withdrawing from the trial and would like to dissociate his name from the matter.
Kaieteur News understands that another lawyer who entered an appearance on behalf of the other two accused has also indicated intent to withdraw from the case by the end of yesterday’s proceedings.
Meanwhile, an arrest warrant has been issued for the main witness in the case. The witness was absent for two hearings since he last appeared in court and was not allowed to sign his disposition. Magistrate Singh yesterday reiterated his position to have the witness arrested and brought to court. This was indicated to Police Prosecutor Bernard Brown and an investigating police rank.
This matter has already seen its fair share of controversy and twists. In addition to complaints about the aforementioned unsigned deposition and questionable adjournments, the General Manager of a city hotel was remanded to prison for allegedly offering $400,000 as a bribe to a detective attached to the Major Crime Investigation Unit, Eve Leary, Georgetown, for him to suppress evidence in the case.
Veersammy Narine, 52, of Robb and Alexander Streets, Bourda, Georgetown, has since been remanded on the bribery charge. Narine is a relative of Veersammy, one of the three accused.
The PI into the murder is scheduled to continue on Thursday.
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