Two months after the reconstruction of the case files was completed, Magistrate Alex Moore has set September 15 as the date for the Nezaam Ali rape case to be reopened and all the parents of the alleged victims have been asked to attend the hearing at the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court.
The case, which should have already gone to trial in the High Court, had to be reopened after it was discovered that key pieces of documents – birth certificates and medicals –were missing from the files.
Ali, a Muslim Scholar, of 268 Section ‘C’ 5 South Turkeyen, was charged in 2012 with raping nine boys.
The charges alleged that between December, 2011 and January, 2012, Ali, being a teacher attached to the Turkeyen Masjid, engaged in sexual activity with the children, abusing a position of trust. He was placed on a total of $1,300,000 bail.
The allegations of abuse first came to light when the Child Care and Protection Agency (CC&PA) received an anonymous tip and officials there began an investigation that led them to the boys, who were then between the ages of four and ten.
The police were informed of the situation and after the boys were examined, Ali, who was employed with the Central Islamic Organisation of Guyana (CIOG), was arrested, released on station bail and subsequently charged. Ali was also sent on leave, pending the outcome of the case.
The mother of three of the boys told Sunday Stabroek recently that it was a CC&PA official who informed her of the date. She was asked to pass the word on to the other parents that they must come to court on September 15 at 9 am as the magistrate would be calling the matter. Magistrate Moore now sits in Berbice as he would have had to set a date based on his availability and workload.
He will have to travel to the Sparendaam Court for the September 15 hearing as well as for the subsequent ones.
The mother was the first to publicly state that documents were missing. She was very vocal about the injustice that she and the relatives of the other boys were being subjected to.
It was during a visit to the Supreme Court in January this year that she and an official from CC&PA discovered that the birth certificates and medical reports for the boys were missing from each of the nine files.
The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) subsequently confirmed that the documents were indeed missing.
During her recent interaction with this newspaper, the mother voiced her satisfaction that a date has finally been fixed but questioned whether the police or the court will be launching an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of the documents. “For me, reopening the matter shouldn’t be the end. Them things didn’t grow feet and walk out of the files and disappear. Somebody had to move them [and] I hope that the higher ones don’t forget that. Somebody gotta be held accountable cause this thing delaying justice fuh me and meh chirren,” she stressed.
So far, police officials have said no investigation is being conducted into the disappearance of the documents. It has already been established that though it was a police rank who prosecuted the matter, once Ali was committed to stand trial, the files and all evidence relating to the matter became the property of the court, which has the sole responsibility of securing same.
Ali was committed to stand trial in 2014 but shortly after, his lawyer, Nigel Hughes, filed an action in the High Court to have the committal overturned. However, this was rejected by the court.
Crime Chief Wendell Blanhum had revealed that in wake of the disappearance of the documents charges will be reinstituted against Ali, a move which will result in a fresh Preliminary Inquiry being conducted.
“The DPP has instructed that we conduct further investigations and has given directives which we are dealing with and once complete we will be reinstituting charges,” Blanhum had said.
In a media release issued on May 22, the DPP’s office said that the matter of the State v. Nezaam Ali, called Mufti, for the offence of sexual activity with a child by abusing a position of trust, had been remitted to the magistrate to be re-opened. It said that in a letter, dated February 13, 2017, DPP Shalimar Ali-Hack remitted the matter to the magistrate to reopen the paper committal. Further, it said on the same date, the DPP issued a directive to the Guyana Police Force to obtain “certified” copies of the original documents before the reopening of the paper committal hearing.
The DPP, the release said, had also forwarded a report to the Minister of Social Protection Amna Ally on the case. Ally has said nothing publicly on the matter since the story broke, and several attempts by this publication to reach her for a comment have proven futile.