A Corentyne man, who was on trial in the High Court in Berbice for the murder of policeman Jirbahan Dianand is a free man as the prosecution closed its case for the lack of evidence after its star witness changed his story.
The star witness was then dramatically arrested by police on the ground that he committed perjury in the lower court
Salim Bacchus was set free hours after his trial started before Justice Franklyn Holder and a jury. State prosecutor attorney at law Natasha Backer closed her case following the changing story from key witness Aszim Shivgobin. Defence counsel Mark Waldron then made a no-case submission. The no- case submission was upheld by the Justice Holder; after which the forewoman returned with a formal verdict of not guilty.
Shivgobin, 18 years old, of No. 76 Housing Scheme, who is also the nephew of Salim Bacchus, was the first of thirteen witnesses called by the prosecution to give evidence.
The High Court trial heard that Shivgobin had told the lower court that he and his brother Azam and uncle Salim met officer Dianand at a restaurant opposite the National Insurance Scheme Corriverton branch. He also admitted to telling the magistrate that his uncle Salim had told Azam that he had $2.3 million dollars to pay the police. He further answered in the affirmative when it was suggested to him by the prosecution that he, his brother Azam and uncle Salim went to Moleson Creek to pay the officer the money. Shivgobin accepted the further suggestion put forward by the state that he had indeed told the magistrate that his uncle Salim went to the now deceased policeman in his motor car and he heard two shots after.
Aszim, who was 15 years old at the time, when asked what date he had given the evidence said he could not recall. He was shown the original deposition and accepted that he had given the evidence on the 6th of December 2012; the day the preliminary inquiry began.
After clarifying that the witness would recall what was his testimony in the Springlands magistrate’s court, State Prosecutor Backer quizzed the witness on if he was aware that the story he had given three years ago was different to the one given yesterday in court. He accepted that it was a different story.
When put to him by the prosecution that both stories could not be true and the one given yesterday was the fable, Shivgobin boldly said “I was forced to tell that story because Sergeant Johnson and Corporal Caesar tell me to say that Uncle Salim shoot the policeman and they gone charge me for murder, and I gone go to jail for the rest of my life… I came here today [yesterday] to speak the truth nobody force me to do so” he declared.
Under cross-examination, he maintained that he was forced by police to testify that his “uncle Salim killed the policeman”. He also stated during cross-examination, when he told the police he could not do it, they threatened to “charge him with murder and he would have to spend the rest of his life in prison”.
After Shivgobin finished testifying he took a seat in the audiences. As he exited the court room, he was arrested by police but not without resistance.
On September 14, 2012, Dianand was discovered dead in his car, at Jackson Creek, Corentyne, which was parked on a lonely road two miles from Moleson Creek. He had been shot twice. He sustained one wound to his forehead and the other below his left ear. (David Papannah)