Prosecutor withdraws request for magistrate to recuse self in CN Sharma case

State Prosecutor Sanjeev Datadin yesterday withdrew his application for Magistrate Geeta Chandan Persid-Edmond to recuse herself from the obstruction of justice charge involving Tyrone Ali and Chandra Narine Sharma.

Chandra Narine Sharma

Datadin’s withdrawal was contained in correspondence which he presented to the magistrate. The State Prosecutor’s earlier request for the magistrate’s withdrawal from the case was premised on the fact that attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes who is representing Sharma is also representing the said magistrate in a matter in the High Court. This, he had contended, could have caused her to be biased in her rulings thus favouring Hughes.

Yesterday’s court session was set to allow Magistrate Persid-Edmond to rule on whether or not she was going to recuse herself from the matter. However since the request was withdrawn the magistrate ordered the parties to return to court on August 6 to continue the matter.

When the Preliminary Inquiry (PI) into the witness tampering charge started on July 8, Datadin had indicated that he wanted to deliberate on a matter brought to his attention and make an application based on it. The magistrate had allowed a brief adjournment to allow Datadin to consult with Hughes and defence counsel Vic Puran. Upon resumption, Datadin had then requested that the magistrate recuse herself from the case.

Datadin had submitted that his application stemmed from the fact that Hughes was representing Magistrate Persid-Edmond in a matter against the Judicial Service Commission (JSC) and his presence in the matter might prejudice the prosecution’s case.

Hughes did not object to the matter being transferred and had indicated that he would continue to represent Sharma in his matter. However, he pointed out that the matter was not transferred to Court 10 and placed before the said magistrate at his request. Hughes then said that it was public knowledge that he was representing the magistrate in the matter against the JSC and did not see this as a basis for bias against the prosecution. He then asked the prosecution to voice its concerns if it had any other difficulties with him as the Director of Public Prosecution had raised similar objections when he appeared in the pink suitcase cocaine matter.

In that matter, the DPP had written to the Chief Justice requesting that Justice William Ramlal recuse himself from hearing the matter because Hughes represented the judge’s sister, Supreme Court Registrar Sita Ramlal in a matter.

In response, Datadin said that he was obliged to raise the application but it was up to the court to make the determination on the issue.

On April 26, Sharma was charged with attempting to obstruct the course of justice. It is alleged that on April 15, he knowingly attempted to obstruct the course of justice by removing two of the girls at the centre of sex abuse allegations against him from their known address and taking them to a house at 123 Golden Grove, East Bank Demerara in order to prevent them from being questioned by police. The magistrate had granted him $100,000 bail. On July 1, Sharma was arraigned on another charge of witness tampering and was released on $150,000 bail.

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