Prosecution ordered to close case in harassment trial

-after absence of witnesses

Magistrate Geeta Chandan Edmond yesterday ordered the prosecution to close its case in the trial of Anand Narine, who is accused of circulating nude photos of his ex-wife, Babita Sarjou.

The presiding magistrate has fixed July 5 as the peremptory date, by which the prosecution was warned to have all its outstanding witnesses present to testify, after which it must close its case.

The magistrates’ decision was prompted by the constant absence of witnesses in the matter. The court noted that it had been granting the prosecution adjournments since September last year.

Babita Sarjou

Expressing dissatisfaction with its conduct of the proceedings, the magistrate firmly contended that it was inexcusable of the prosecution to have been requesting constant adjournments for witnesses without avail.

Magistrate Chandan Edmond further explained that it is important for the court to balance the scales of justice, saying that the prosecution cannot always be having its way, as she questioned where the justice is.

Three of four witnesses are yet to take to the stands in the matter.

Narine is accused of exposing pictures of her to public view to corrupt public morals on August 31, 2010. Narine is alleged to have plastered copies of Sarjou in public, including on the fence of her then place of employment, BK International.

In August last year, months after Sarjou was hired at BK International, employees arrived at work to find printouts of a nude photograph of the young woman pasted on the fence and on trucks belonging to the company.

The man who denied the charge has been admitted to bail in the sum $75,000.

Sarjou, a mother of one, has not been seen since the night before Diwali 2010.

Yesterday’s hearing was to facilitate the testimony of Detective Sergeant Mitchell Caesar. Although the sergeant was present yesterday, the prosecution reported to the court that the case could not proceed since Caesar was unable to uplift the relevant exhibits that should have been taken to court.

The prosecution explained that the “station sergeant had to attend a church service” and as a result Caesar was unable to uplift the exhibits to take to court.

As a result, the magistrate sternly warned that the sergeant having to attend a church service was not the court’s problem. She said that the prosecution has to ensure that exhibits are taken to court by whatever means.

When the matter was called on June 23, in order for Caesar to take the stand, he was absent. This had also been the case on a previous occasion. A warrant had been subsequently issued for the arrest.

Meanwhile, defence counsel Maxwell McKay renewed his application for the court to uphold his no-case submission. McKay argued that considering the number of times adjournments had been sought by the prosecution, the matter should be dismissed for want of prosecution.

Counsel contended that not only are witnesses not turning up to testify, but that the prosecution has not been able to prove its case. McKay said too that while it has been established that the virtual complaint cannot be found, it was not his client’s fault.

When the matter was initially called yesterday morning, the magistrate ordered the prosecution to have its outstanding witnesses by 1pm, after which its case must be closed. After McKay indicated to the court that he would have been unable to return however, the July 5 adjournment was granted.

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