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Mr. Sohan said he was moreso disappointed when he read, in the newspapers, suggestions that he could be influenced.
But he assured that other opinions will not affect his ruling. If that were so, the Court would have simply taken a poll and not go into all the trouble of holding a preliminary inquiry into the charge against political activists Mark Benschop and Phillip Bynoe, the magistrate said.
Benschop and Bynoe are jointly charged with the capital offence and Magistrate Sohan has been conducting a pre-trial hearing to ascertain whether a prima facie has been made out for the duo to face a jury.
However, Benschop alone has been in the dock during the proceedings as Bynoe is still at large, with an arrest warrant out for him.
Particulars of the charge said Benschop and Bynoe conspired together with other persons to forcibly and unlawfully enter the compound and premises of Office of the President in Georgetown last July 3 and were present and encouraged others, by word and conduct, to unlawfully storm the same premises.
Magistrate Sohan was expected to rule yesterday on submissions by lawyers on both sides in the case but said he has not completed his assessment of the evidence.
He said he has asked for his workload to be reduced and should give his ruling on November 21.
Noting that, so far, he has been able to maintain his integrity, the magistrate said, while he finds the discussion of the evidence improper, it is also contemptuous that the testimony was publicly debated when he has not yet pronounced on it.
He pointed out that, in the United States, cases are talked about but only after a decision is made.
The remark caused leading Defence Counsel Basil Williams to later state that this is not always the case and he referred to the O. J. Simpson murder trial of which the public had a “blow by blow account”.
Williams, who said he was forced to go on the electronic media, alleged that the charge against Benschop was politically motivated and the public was not given a clear account of his defence, because, he claimed, Guyana Chronicle, for instance, “only reports on the Prosecution's case”.
Alluding to a publication in Stabroek News surrounding the Prosecutors' submissions, Williams told the Court it was “a deliberate act of discrimination”.
He said it was after that the Defence decided to utilise the provisions of Section 63 of the Laws of Guyana which reads: “It shall not be lawful to print or publish or cause or procure to be printed or published, in relation to any preliminary inquiry under this Act, any particulars other than:
· the names, addresses and occupation of the accused person/s and the witnesses;
· a concise statement of the charge and the defence in support of which evidence has been given;
· submissions on any point of law arising in the course of the inquiry and
· the decision of the magistrate thereon.
Williams refuted the Prosecution's narrative on the Guyana Television Broadcasting Company (GTV) broadcast last Sunday and the report which appeared in last Tuesday's edition of Guyana Chronicle, where it was stated that the Defence inferred that the Benschop case would indicate whether or not the Judiciary is independent and free from political interference.
He said that the prosecutors’ appearance on the television to discuss aspects of the case went “way beyond their mandate” as stipulated in Section 63.
Williams said he does not have a problem with anyone going public to discuss a case as long as the individual does not try to influence the decision of the tribunal.
The Prosecutors appeared on the GTV programme 'Close Up' last Sunday and the Defence lawyers made their appearance on the NBTV Channel Nine show ‘At home with Roger’ on Tuesday and previously on ‘Wake up Guyana’ with presenter Basil Bradshaw last Monday.