Trial-by-date hearing
Benschop’s rights not the issue
-says lawyer for eight prisoners
Stabroek News
November 7, 2003

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The constitutional motion filed last month on behalf of eight prisoners seeking to have trials held in the order accused persons are charged is not an attempt to infringe on the fundamental rights of treason-accused Mark Benschop, according to counsel for the eight prisoners.

The case was brought after it was indicated that Benschop and several other prisoners were to have their trials before the eight despite being charged on a later date.

Attorney Priya Manickchand, representing the prisoners in association with Glen Hanoman, made this point while making oral submissions in response to a summons filed by Benschop’s legal team to intervene in the aforementioned matter.

Manickchand told the court, “it is unclear on what premise(s) Benschop’s lawyers are relying to seek to intervene.”

She said the rulings in both local and foreign courts, regarding persons seeking to intervene under such circumstances, indicated that intervention was only allowed “if the intended intervenor can assist the court to completely and effectively adjudicate upon the issue before it...” and this was not the case, presently.

Further, Manickchand contended, Benschop’s legal team, which includes Benjamin Gibson, Emily Dodson and Sean Allicock, could only invoke Article 153 of the constitution, in their application to intervene, if Articles 138-151 - relevant to the applicant’s fundamental rights - had been infringed.

Last month, Manickchand and Hanoman, based on the motion, had sought and been granted nisi orders of certiorari, mandamus and prohibition directing the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to show cause why a writ of certiorari should not be issued quashing her decision to present the indictments of Benschop, Leslie Tappin, Glad-stone George, et al.

Khemraj Ramjattan, for the DPP, had objected to the procedure employed by the inmates’ lawyers to bring the matter before the court, and had been overruled by presiding judge, Justice Jainarayan Singh Jr.

Benschop’s legal team thereafter petitioned by way of summons to intervene in the matter, and the inmates’ lawyers have since filed an affidavit in response.

Justice Singh Jnr is expected to give his decision on this matter on Monday, while the case brought on the motion is set for hearing on November 17.