AG’s Chamber asks court for more time in $54m diamonds case

-were in custody of police following 1994 Potaro mining camp robbery

The Attorney General’s Chambers is requesting more time to ascertain the location of the $54M worth of diamonds belonging to miner, Ronald Khan, which was left in the custody of police following a 1994 Potaro robbery.

When the case came up for hearing before Justice Fidela Corbin-Lincoln at the High Court yesterday morning, counsel for the state, Joanann Edghill-Stuart requested a two-week adjournment.

She explained that during this time renewed efforts will be made to locate the precious minerals. Additionally, she said that steps will also be made to ascertain the status of the criminal matter regarding the theft of the diamonds from Khan in 1994.

To this end, Edghill-Stuart said that the AG’s Chambers has since issued notices in the press for persons associated with that matter to visit its office in a bid to garner information on the case.

Counsel said that while some amount of progress is being made to contact those persons, the diamonds are still unaccounted for.

Asked the course the case is likely to take if the diamonds were returned, attorney Kezia Williams who represents Khan, said that her client would no longer pursue the matter.

Being the subject-matter of his application before the High Court, Williams said that her client is willing to settle the matter once he gets his diamonds back.

Edghill-Stuart, however, noted that she will be seeking further instructions from Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, Basil Williams, SC as regards the way forward.

The state counsel said that within another two weeks, she is hoping to be better able to report to the court on the location of the diamonds, as well as the status of the criminal case which was being heard at the Mahdia Magistrate’s Court.

The judge said that she would be making a note that both parties are likely to proceed to settlement once the status of the case is ascertained and the diamonds located. She thereafter adjourned the matter to May 22 for reports.

Depending on what is reported to the court, Justice Corbin-Lincoln said the determination will then be made as to whether she proceeds with the trial.

Failing the return of her client’s diamonds, however, Williams noted the likely possibility of heading to trial.

Khan, who his attorney said was ill, did not attend yesterday’s hearing.

The man is being represented by Williams, in association with attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes.

In his writ filed on January 3, 2011 requesting the return of his diamonds from the police, Khan is arguing that the items are being wrongfully detained by the Guyana Police Force (GPF).

It is against this backdrop that he is seeking an order directing the AG and/or the Commissioner of Police to return his diamonds forthwith.

In the alternative, he is seeking an order directing the Commissioner of Police to compensate him for the full value of the diamonds—that being $54,000,000.

Khan is also seeking damages in the sum of $100,000 together with interest and court costs for what he maintains is the wrongfully detention of his property by the police.

He also wants any further or other order which the court may see fit and deem just to grant.

The plaintiff is asking too, for whatever sum as may be allowed on taxation for costs.

According to the writ seen by this newspaper, Khan had noted that if the amount claimed was paid to him, his attorneys or agent at least four days before the time fixed for appearance, further proceedings would have been stayed.

Khan noted in his statement of claim, that he at all times was the owner of the $54M worth of uncut diamonds.

He said that in 1994, his mining camp at Ewang Creek, Potaro (Potaro-Siparuni) was robbed of the diamonds which were subsequently recovered by police and taken to the Mahdia Police Station where it had been lodged.

There he said he inspected the diamonds and verified the quantity and amount with police officers. After this was done, the plaintiff said that the officers then transported the items from Mahdia to the E and F Division of the GPF.

He said he was informed that the diamonds were required as exhibits in the criminal trial of the persons charged with the armed robbery of his camp.

Despite the passage of several years, however, Khan said that the GPF was unable to conclude the prosecution of the alleged defendants as some of them had escaped while others died.

 

November 2010

Sixteen years after the robbery—by letter of 24th November 2010, the plaintiff said he, through his attorney, wrote the Commissioner of Police requesting the return of his diamonds. He said that while receipt of his letter was acknowledged, the Commissioner of Police failed to return his property.

According to Khan, despite making several demands, the defendant (AG) has “failed and or refused,” to return his diamonds.

In the Saturday May 5th edition of the Stabroek News, the AG’s Chambers published a notice seeking to have nine former police officers contact it in relation to Khan’s application before the High Court.

Among the persons being sought is former Police Commissioner Floyd McDonald who has since said that he never received any diamonds pertaining to the matter and is disturbed that after more than 14 years since his retirement he is being asked to give account for it.

Seeking to clear his name over the missing diamonds, McDonald declared, “I joined the Guyana Police Force on 19th July 1967, I retired February 2004. During the period stated I NEVER RECEIVED, SAW, EXAMINED, SENT TO EXAMINE ANY DIAMONDS in relation to Ronald Khan. I never gave Inspector Maison instructions or any diamonds. Inspector Maison therefore NEVER returned any DIAMONDS to me. It is my view therefore that the article’s corrosive nature is aimed at my character. I am therefore calling on the author at this incipient stage to correct his poisonous article with like coverage.”

“This is first time I am hearing of this and I only learned that there was a notice for me to visit Attorney General’s Chambers yesterday from the newspapers…I was not even in the force when they said it was discovered that the diamond was missing,” he added.

Former Deputy Crime Chief Harley Davidson, Officer Eon Sandy, formerly stationed at the Supreme Court Police Outpost; Alwyn Wilson, last known to be stationed at ‘E’ and ‘F’ Division headquarters, Eve Leary and Terrence Semple, who was last stationed at Mahdia Police Station were also asked to contact the AG’s Chambers.

Listed too are Courtney Ramsey, last stationed at the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), Police Headquarters, Eve Leary; Desmond Leitch, last stationed at CID, Eve Leary; Constable Fraser Reg #10881; and Ex-detective Sergeant Carl Wilson, Reg # 7797.

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