The Court of Appeal will rule next Tuesday on Guyanese murder accused Marcus Bisram’s bid to have his application for a stay of execution of the state’s request for his extradition from the US heard as an urgent matter without notice.
Bisram, who is also fighting the extradition order issued in the United States by Judge Peggy Kuo, is attempting to avoid being extradited to Guyana to face a charge over the murder of Number 70 Village carpenter Faiyaz Narinedatt.
Presenting arguments in favour of Bisram yesterday before the Court of Appeal was attorney Siand Dhurjon, who noted that his client’s case is centred on a single case of law and he described the case as curious, exceptional and unique since it has no precedent. He said that the evidence against five other persons charged with the crime is different from the evidence against his client since his case is derived from the evidence of one individual which is the “body and the soul” of the case.
At that point, Justice of Appeal Arif Bulkan, who along with Justices of Appeal Rishi Persaud and Rafiq Khan heard the matter yesterday, pointed out that the basis of the state’s case against all the accused is from one incident and he questioned what the basis is for the attorney separating the matters.
In response, the lawyer said that there must be some assistance or encouragement of the offence but in his client’s case the only evidence is from one individual, who later in court recanted what was contained in his statement and claimed that the police had forced him and put his thumbprint on the statement.
He said the court has to decide whether it is enough for the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to quash the charge. He said the answer to that question is yes as justice must be used to rescue a man who is incarcerated and quashing is the only remedy. He said should Bisram have to wait until the preliminary inquiry (PI) into the charge, then that would be prejudicial.
Justice of Appeal Khan interrupted and pointed out that Bisram is not incarcerated in Guyana. Justice Bulkan noted that the motion is for Bisram’s matter to be accelerated and he asked why this matter must be treated urgently.
According to Dhurjon, Bisram’s freedom is restricted or will be restricted when he returns to Guyana.
Justice Bulkan pointed out that there are persons who are treated similarly and he questioned why Bisram’s matter must jump the queue.
Dhurjon said that it should jump because the evidence against him has been disavowed and he has no other relief than approaching the Appeal Court. He noted that the Constitution endows the DPP as the Alpha and Omega (beginning and the end) of all criminal cases. “Is it settled that her powers are unfettered?” Justice Bulkan asked in relation to the DPP.
The defence lawyer then said that Bisram’s case is akin to one where the witness cannot be found or has died before the matter comes up and in those cases the DPP would discontinue the matter.
In response to the defence’s argument, Solicitor-General Kim Kyte-Thomas, who appeared along with State Prosecutor Stacey Goodings, said that defence’s interpretation of the apparent disavowal of the witness’ testimony is just that and not a statement of fact. She pointed out that there is a statement that was tendered in court and the witness did not doubt its content. According to the Solicitor-General, the witness’ statement never dealt with him actually seeing Bisram committing an act but rather it was about what he heard.
The issue, she said, is a question of fact and the correct place for this to be determined is in the Magistrate’s Court, where the issues will be ventilated. She also pointed out that the PI has not started and it is unclear as to what will obtain and therefore the court cannot be asked to speculate and look into the future as to what the witness will say. The matter of urgency does not come into play, she said, as there are many persons who are sitting, waiting for their matters to be heard. And she pointed out that Bisram is not in Guyana and is fighting his return and while that is his right, he cannot want his matter to be heard urgently.
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 31st and November 1st, 2016, at Number 70 Village, Berbice.
He is currently fighting his pending extradition to Guyana and he has filed habeas corpus proceedings in which he is once again challenging the existing treaty between Guyana and the United States as well as the evidence implicating him in the murder.
That matter is ongoing.