Lawyer seeks to throw out Prisoners Constitutional Motion
By George Barclay
October 16, 2003
VETERAN Attorney-at-law Mr. Benjamin Gibson, who is seeking to represent treason accused Mark Benschop at the hearing of the Prisoners Constitutional Redress Motion without filing an application to become a party to the proceedings, yesterday threatened to file a document to throw out the Motion, which he described as a ‘scandal’.
Gibson, who filed an affidavit in answer signed by Mark Benschop, is alleging that that was sufficient to permit him to enter the arena, and declared that there was no obligation for him to apply to do so since the Order, made by the trial judge would affect his client.
The hearing was adjourned to 1.30 o’clock this afternoon, when the summons by Mr. Gibson is expected to be forwarded to the judge for his consideration.
In his affidavit, Benschop said, “I am one of the parties directly interested in the Order Nisi of the learned trial judge although I am not named as one of the Respondents in the Notice of Motion.
He added, “I am charged with the offence of treason and have been incarcerated at the Georgetown Prison since July 15, 2002 when I first appeared before the Chief Magistrate (ag). I was committed on February 26, 2003 by Magistrate Sohan to stand trial for the said offence at the Demerara Assizes and continue to be incarcerated.
‘‘I am advised by my Attorneys-at-law and verily believe that in terms of section 113 of the Criminal Law Offences Act Cap 10:01, my depositions are ready and completed and the first-named respondent has presented my indictment for hearing at the October sessions of the Demerara Assizes and the Second-named Respondent caused same to be Gazetted in the Official Gazette of Saturday, September 27, 2003.
“I have a personal right which is guaranteed by the Constitution in terms of articles 40 and 144 of the Constitution. I am entitled to a fair trial within a reasonable time and I am advised and verily believe that guarantee is being obeyed by the First-named Respondent -the Director of Public Prosecutions.
“That I know of no reasons why the indictment of any other prisoner has not been presented for hearing at the Assizes and I have in no way conducted myself in a manner to prevent a fair trial within reasonable time of any other person now in the Georgetown Prison.
“That the Applicant has no cause or reason to interfere with my right to a fair trial within a reasonable time.
“That the Order Nisi herein is unlawful having regard to the Constitution more particularly Article 187 where the Office of Director of Public Prosecutions has been created as an independent public authority with power to institute, undertake and carry on criminal proceedings independently.”
Benschop also said that he has authorised Mr. Benjamin Gibson and /or Shaun Allicock and /or Ms. Emily Dodson, Attorneys-at-law to act as his lawyers in the matter.
The Nisi Order was granted to lawyers Ms Priya Manickchand and Mr. Glen Hanoman, who are representing the applicant’s prisoners - Kenneth Richardson, Seetal Sookdeo, and six others.
They are seeking Constitutional redress under Article 153 of the Constitution for contravention of their fundamental rights and freedoms guaranteed by Articles, 40, 139, 141, 144 and 149 of the Constitution of Guyana. They are saying, too, that their rights are being contravened by listing the name of treason accused Mark Benschop as Number One on the hearing list along with other prisoners who had recently been committed to stand trial in preference to persons who had been awaiting trial for years.