Court denies Marcus Bisram’s bid to get murder charge withdrawn

Upon his return to Guyana, Marcus Bisram will face a murder charge for his alleged role in the death of Number 70 Village carpenter Faiyaz Narinedatt, after a judge yesterday dismissed an application by his attorneys to have the indictment withdrawn.

Bisram, a US-based Guyanese, is accused of procuring and commanding Orlando Dickie, Radesh Motie, Diodath Datt, Harri Paul Parsram, and Niran Yacoob to murder Narinedatt between October 31 and November 1, 2016, at Number 70 Village, Berbice.

He recently lost his challenge to his extradition and yesterday suffered another defeat when Justice Gino Persaud dismissed his lawyers’ application to have the capital charge withdrawn.

The judge also denied a last-minute bid by Bisram’s legal team to discontinue the proceedings, calling it an abuse of process.

Marcus Brian Bisram

Delivering his ruling yesterday afternoon, Justice Persaud said the charge would not be quashed, while noting to Bisram’s attorney, Sanjeev Datadin, that he had failed to disclose certain material facts to the court.

Justice Persaud noted that Datadin failed to disclose an application dated December 13, 2016, which he had before then acting Chief Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards. The judge said he happened to discover the application as he conducted research for his ruling.

The judge lamented the importance of applicants seeking prerogative reliefs from the court to so do with “clean hands.”

According to Datadin, he did not bring the application to the court’s attention as he did not consider it to be important to his client’s specific challenge before Justice Persaud.

The judge reprimanded Datadin, while noting that he was bound to disclose everything material, even though it may be unfavourable to his case.

Meanwhile, the judge also denied the application by the lawyers to discontinue the proceedings, while noting that it was an abuse of process, manifestly unfair and brought the justice system into disrepute.

As a result, Bisram was ordered to pay $250,000 court costs to the respondents, who are listed as the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), the Chief Magistrate and the Commissioner of Police.

Justice Persaud, who had initially fixed Monday to deliver his decision on Bisram’s application to have the capital indictment withdrawn, deferred the ruling until yesterday, after receiving a notice moments before that they no longer wanted to proceed with the matter.

The judge had expressed anger at this, while noting that the court had already invested considerable time in hearing the case and preparing its ruling. Justice Persaud had said he found it troubling that Bisram’s attorneys would make such an application on the day the court was scheduled to rule.

Datadin himself was not present at Monday’s hearing, but Justice Persaud sent an order through associate attorneys attached to his firm to ensure he presented himself at 1.30 yesterday afternoon.

Datadin, who was five minutes early for yesterday’s hearing, apologised to the judge for not sending the correspondence requested to substantiate, with legal authorities, why his application to discontinue the matter should be allowed.

According to counsel, he clearly misunderstood what was requested of him. He, however, said that he had received instructions from his client to discontinue the proceedings because of substantial changes in circumstances surrounding the case.

Addressing the court on why he believed the application to discontinue the proceedings should be granted, Datadin said the Crown Office Rules of 1906 allows for such an application.

The judge, however, had cautioned that the court had the inherent power not to allow an abuse of process, while noting that he had treated the case with urgency, even as he had some 100 other cases that are also of import.

Datadin attempted to advance part 37 of the Civil Procedures Rules as applying to applicants being able to discontinue proceedings. The judge, however, pointed out that that provision applies to claimants and not applicants.

Additionally, he asked counsel whether he believed it was fair to ask the court to discontinue the case, when all that was remaining, was for the decision to be rendered.

The three listed respondents in the matter were represented by Solicitor-General Kim Kyte.

Early last month, US Judge Peggy Kuo ordered that Bisram be extradited to Guyana, effectively thwarting his bid to stay her hands while they sought to have the murder charge dismissed in the High Court here.

Datadin’s challenge in the local High Court was to have the charge quashed, thus prohibiting the DPP from proceeding against his client, and a magistrate from conducting a preliminary inquiry (PI).

Datadin had argued that the charge was “without legal foundation, null, void, unreasonable and unfair.”

According to him, the only evidence which the state purports to have against his client was a statement from its key witness, Chaman Chunilall, alleging to have heard Bisram saying words to the effect, “kill him.”

During the PI into the charge against Bisram’s five co-accused, before Magistrate Charlyn Artiga at the Springland’s Magistrate’s Court, however, Chunilall, under cross-examination, purportedly recanted his story. As a result, Datadin argued that the recantation was sufficient to warrant the DPP to withdraw the charge levelled against Bisram.

Kyte, however, refuted Datadin’s contention that the purported recantation should be a reason to withdraw the charge against the accused, arguing that these are issues which the magistrate is called upon to examine and determine at the conclusion of the PI, whether a prima facie case has been made out to commit the defendant to stand trial before the High Court.

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