Jun 03, 2018 News
Lawyers for embattled New York-based businessman, Marcus Bisram, who is facing extradition for murder in Guyana, have until Wednesday to say whether they would agree to local witnesses giving testimony.
Bisram, who is in a US jail, pending the outcome of the hearings, is insisting that the evidence in Guyana is flimsy, and that at least one witness was coerced into signing a statement by investigators.
Bisram’s lawyers late last month requested the New York court to have the witnesses testify through the US embassy in Georgetown.
On Thursday, Judge Kiyo Matsumoto ordered that the US government, which is handling the extradition case on behalf of the Government of Guyana, respond to the motion for a hearing to provide witness testimony, on or before June 6, 2018.
According to a letter dated May 22nd, sent by Helbock, Nappa and Gallucci, LLP, the law firm representing Bisram, it was stated that there is a genuine “issue of material fact” whether witnesses in Guyana were coerced into providing statements to the police force, implicating the businessman.
“We respectfully request that this court hold a hearing where the witnesses accusing Mr Bisram can provide testimony. In the interest of judicial economy, we respectfully request that opposing counsel arrange for the complaining witnesses to testify via television or telephone at the United States Embassy in Guyana. This will allow the court to confirm the identity of the witnesses and obviate any need for a visa to be issued. The witnesses should be available,” said the letter to Judge Matsumoto, of the Brooklyn court.
“We believe that this hearing is the only method to verify the fundamental question of whether the complaining witnesses’ testimony was the product of duress and coercion. It should resolve the main issue underlying this matter.”
Bisram, a millionaire philanthropist, is being held for the 2016 murder of a Berbice carpenter, Faiyaz Narinedatt.
The Government of Guyana had requested Bisram, who lives in New York, to be extradited.
A court ruled that he is extraditable. However, the businessman, who has retained a battery of lawyers in New York, and in Guyana, had filed habeas corpus proceedings, in last-ditch attempts to be freed.
A judge earlier this year gave lawyers until April 16 to file a reply to the US government objections.
According to the court documents, in the case against the Metropolitan Detention Center where Bisram is currently being held, his lawyers are arguing that the challenge to the extradition is a limited one.
The question before the court is whether there is probable cause to try the accused, not whether he is guilty. The petitioner cannot offer a defence to the charges such as alibi, self-defence, or insanity – as such defence is not at issue in the case, the lawyers for Bisram contended.
At issue, the court documents said, is the evidence demonstrating that the statement came from an “illiterate minor” named Chaman Chunilall, called ‘Nicko’ or ‘Bake’.
The lawyers claimed that the statement of the lone teenaged eyewitness was “coerced” by the police and prosecutors in Guyana.
In fact, the lawyers claimed that Chunilall admitted that his story accusing Bisram of ordering the killing of Narinedatt, is a fabrication.
In January, Assistant Legal Advisor of the Department of State, Washington, Tome Heinemann, filed a declaration in which it was disclosed that the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Guyana on January 18, 2018, transmitted its request for the extradition of Bisram.
Bisram was arrested at a New York beach front property, in Far Rockaway, Queens, on July 4, last, after a U.S. Judge issued a warrant for him. Prior to that, Bisram was posted on the Interpol wanted list.
Bisram’s alleged actions in November 2016 in Berbice, caused four men to be charged for murder. They are Radesh Motie; Diadath Datt, 18; Harripaul Parsram, 49, and Niran Yacoob, 37.
Bisram’s mother, Shermella Inderjali of Number 71 Village, Corentyne, Berbice and Maryanne Lionel, 25, of Number 71 Village, Corentyne, Berbice were arrested during a sting operation. They were charged for willfully attempting to pervert the course of justice.
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