Jagdeo ill, unable to attend court

– case adjourned to July 13

The private charge against former head of state Bharrat Jagdeo was adjourned to July 13, following the submission of a medical report.

Jagdeo was scheduled to return to court yesterday, but the medical report submitted to the court stated that he was unwell and not fit to attend the court hearing.

Stabroek News gathered that the medical report was prepared by Dr Kumar (only name given) of Georgetown. It was also learnt that the doctor had ordered Jagdeo to be on two weeks bed rest.

Bharrat Jagdeo
Bharrat Jagdeo

The private charge was filed by attorney Christopher Ram and it accused Jagdeo of making racially divisive statements at Babu John, Corentyne. It is alleged that on March 8, Jagdeo uttered statements which could have resulted in racial or ethnic hatred among the people, in violation of Section 139 D of the Representation of the People Act.

Jagdeo is being represented by Senior Counsel Bernard De Santos and attorneys Anil Nandlall, Mursaline Bacchus, Adrian Anamayah and Perry Gossai, while Ram is being represented by Trenton Lake and Charrandass Persaud.

When the matter was called in the Whim Magistrate’s Court before Magistrate Charlyn Artiga, she indicated that she had received correspondence from the defence informing her of Jagdeo’s illness.

Prior to acknowledging the medical document, Magistrate Artiga chided the complainant for contacting her via her mobile phone. The reason for her being contacted by Ram was not stated in court. However, the magistrate made reference to an oral application made by defence counsel Mursaline Bacchus where he had requested an adjournment. “I wish to make abundantly clear, I did make a record of your request. However, I did not grant your request,” the magistrate stated. She further informed the attorneys present for both parties that in future she would not be entertaining any oral applications. She advised that in the future all applications should be made through a clerk of the court or at the court office within the presence of both parties.

“I am not familiar with any side. I wish to make it clear that no attorney at law will control proceedings of this case. I will not allow it,” Magistrate Artiga declared.

Christopher Ram reading through the medical document submitted to the court
Christopher Ram reading through the medical document submitted to the court

After her address, Ram sought permission to address the court but this was denied. He was told to make his address through his attorney. Through his attorney Persaud, Ram expressed remorse for contacting the magistrate and gave his assurance that it would not be repeated.

Bacchus, one of Jagdeo’s attorneys, made an application for disclosure of all statements of witnesses and that a transcript of the recording be made available to the defence; that application was granted.

The attorneys also discussed with the presiding magistrate the possibility of a summary trial in the magistrate’s court. While Ram lawyers were in agreement of this type of trial, Bacchus stated that he could not make a decision as to whether the defence would consent to it. He stated that the legislation under which the charge was filed did not provide for a summary disposal, but for the case to be heard before a judge and jury.

Magistrate Artiga suggested that both parties should refer to the Administration of Justice Act, which lists the offence that can and cannot be heard. She also explained that the court is of the opinion that because of the nature of the offence and the penalties attached to it, the charge falls in the magistrate jurisdiction.

On May 25, Jagdeo had the charge read to him by the said magistrate and was not required to plead. He was released on his own recognisance but barred him from travelling out of the country. On June 1, it was reported that the High Court had lifted the travel restriction imposed on the former president, following a petition filed before acting Chief Justice Ian Chang on May 29.

Yesterday, unlike on the other two occasions, there were no Jagdeo supporters protesting outside the court compound.

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