No stay for Piarco enquiry

(Trinidad Express) Two companies and another man charged in the Piarco 2 corruption case yesterday suffered another defeat when a High Court judge refused to stop the enquiry.

Justice Mira Dean-Armorer struck down several legal arguments put forward by attorneys representing Ameer Edoo, and two companies—Maritime Life (Caribbean) Ltd and Maritime General Insurance Co Ltd—during yesterday’s hearing in the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain.

With the ruling, the companies and Edoo are now required to reappear in the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court on Friday for the continuation of the enquiry.

Edoo and the companies had filed applications seeking a stay of the enquiry, pending the appeal of another judgment Dean-Armorer had made earlier this month relating to the repeal of Section 34 of the Administration of Justice (Indictable Proceedings) Act 2011.

In the enquiry, which is more than a decade old, Edoo, the companies and a number of other individuals including United National Congress (UNC) financiers Steve Ferguson and Ishwar Galbaransingh are facing fraud-related charges stemming from the construction of the new Piarco airport.

Section 34, which was later repealed by Parliament, had created an avenue for persons, charged indictably with certain offences, including fraud, beyond a period of ten years, to apply to a judge to have their matters dismissed.

The applicants had filed constitutional motions challenging the constitutionality of the repeal of Section 34. The lawsuits, however, were dismissed by Dean-Armorer on April 5.

They are now seeking to appeal that judgment and it was on this basis that they were seeking to have the enquiry halted pending the appeal hearing.

The judge, who heard arguments from attorneys representing both the State and the applicants on Friday, delivered the ruling shortly after 11 a.m. in Courtroom 08 at the Hall of Justice, Port of Spain.

On Friday, lead attorney for Ferguson and the companies, Edward Fitzgerald QC, informed the court the companies had not as yet filed any appeal but had all intentions of doing so, raising several legal points as to why the stay could be granted even if the appeal had not yet been filed.

The State, however, said there was no guarantee the companies would file the appeal if the stay was granted. If the appeal was not filed after the stay is granted, the State argued this would lead to a permanent stay of the enquiry.

Dean-Armorer in delivering her oral judgment yesterday, outlined her reasons for not granting the stay.

Ferguson and Edoo who sat side-by-side did not display any obvious reaction to the ruling. Dean-Armorer also ordered the applicants to bear the legal costs incurred by the State during the matter.

Edoo was represented by Senior Counsel Sophia Chote and Vijay Deonarine, while attorney Ian Benjamin represented the Director of Public Prosecutions.

Lawyers intend to approach the Appeal Court next Monday, with another application to stop the enquiry, which is scheduled to come up for hearing on May 10.

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