While the Director of Public Prosecutions, (DPP) is empowered under Sections of the Criminal Law Procedure Act to direct a Magistrate to commit an accused to stand trial, this directive must be given before the accused person is discharged.
This is the view of several legal minds, who have weighed in on the controversy surrounding the Preliminary Inquiry, (PI) of Regan Rodrigues.
Rodrigues nicknamed ‘Grey Boy’ was accused of killing political activist, Courtney Crum-Ewing. He had faced two Preliminary trials in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court before Magistrate Judy Latchman prior to his discharge earlier this week.
The Magistrate had been instructed by Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack that in accordance with Section 72 (2) (ii) (a) of the Criminal Law (Procedure) Act, Chapter 10:01 that she should commit Rodrigues to stand trial in the High Court.
Magistrate Latchman noted that she could not comply with the DPP’s order since she had already discharged the matter. Latchman said that while the DPP is of the “opinion” that there is evidence against Rodrigues for the indictable offence, her court maintains there is not sufficient evidence against Rodrigues for murder committed on Crum-Ewing.
After much back and forth between the Magistrate and the DPP, the former accused was finally released from police custody.
However confusion continues to surround Rodrigues’ trial and release. Some legal luminaries have since shared their views on the matter.
They have shared that while the DPP is empowered by Sections 72 (2) (ii) (a) of the Criminal Law (Procedure) Act to issue the directive, the law states that this should be done before the discharge of the accused person.
Sections of that the Criminal Law (Procedure) Act states “Where before the discharge of an accused person, Sections 66 and 67 have not been complied with, and the DPP, if after the receipt of (certain) documents and things, is of the opinion that the evidence given on behalf of the prosecution had established a prima facie case against the accused, the DPP may remit those documents and things to the Magistrate with directions to reopen the inquiry and comply with Sections 66 and 67 and may give such further directions as he (the DPP) may think proper.
“After complying with the orders given by the DPP…the Magistrate may either commit the accused for trial or he may adjourn the inquiry and subject to any directions on the matter given by the DPP forthwith notify the DPP who shall give further directions as he may deem fit and if of the opinion that a sufficient case has been made out for the accused to answer, may direct the Magistrate to commit the accused for trial. “
Additionally, this newspaper understands that at this point (after the discharge) if the DPP wants to challenge the actions of the Magistrate, she must move to the High Court to have the discharge order quashed.
Should the DPP succeed in the High Court then steps should be taken for the accused to be rearrested.
When the accused faces the Magistrate again and she is still mindful to discharge him and the DPP is adamant that he should be committed then the Attorney representing the accused may also move to the High Court to challenge the DPP’s order.
The release of Rodrigues comes almost two days after Magistrate Judy Latchman discharged him on the murder charge. It happened for the second time this past week.
Magistrate Latchman maintained that there was insufficient evidence against him to stand trial at the High Court for the capital offence.
In her ruling, the Magistrate pointed out that while the court was satisfied that Crum-Ewing was shot with a gun retrieved from a house at Riverview, Ruimveldt, which was occupied by Rodrigues. There was no evidence that Rodrigues “used the gun, pulled the trigger and shot Crum-Ewing.”
Magistrate Latchman said that she believed that Crum–Ewing died as a result of haemorrhage and shock due to multiple gunshot wounds as testified by Government Pathologist Dr. Nehaul Singh, who revealed that Crum-Ewing received five gunshot wounds – one of which was at close range.
In relation to 14 oral statements given to police by Rodrigues, the Magistrate ruled that they did not implicate him in the murder.
The same Magistrate had also discharged the murder charge against Rodrigues on September 14, 2016 at the end of a Preliminary Inquiry as a result of insufficient evidence.
However, last March, the DPP ordered that the matter be reopened for the taking of further evidence from police witnesses and to rule on the voluntariness of all oral statements made by Rodrigues.
As a result, Rodrigues was arrested on Good Friday and was taken before Magistrate Latchman on April 18.
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