Shafeek Bacchus PI
Prosecution granted adjournment to March 24 Cops, King's supporters clash in court yard
February 19, 2004
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The preliminary inquiry into the death of cattle-farmer Shafeek Bacchus failed to commence yesterday after the prosecution was granted a further adjournment.
Police Prosecutor Gordon Peters sought an adjournment and said that the hearing will commence in another month. Peters did not say why the prosecution was seeking a delay in the proceedings.
Acting Chief Magistrate Juliet Holder-Allen accepted the application and granted the prosecution the additional time. The hearing resumes on March 24.
The prosecutor also withdrew its case against accused Mark Thomas. Thomas called 'Kerzorkee' died on February 1 at the Georgetown Public Hospital. Fifteen days earlier, he had collapsed at the Brickdam Police Station after he learned that a joint charge of murder was instituted against him and co-accused Ashton King and Shawn Hinds.
Defence counsel Vic Puran voiced his disapproval at the adjournment. He said the prosecution has to be more forthright with the court and give a reason as to why the proceedings have to be delayed.
Puran, who represents King, said he assumed investigations were completed when the police charged the men on January 16 and placed them before the courts.
The magistrate told Puran that the prosecution made a request and a reason need not be provided.
Defence counsel Compton Richardson, appearing on behalf of Hinds, sought an earlier date than the initial March 30 set by Holder-Allen and the hearing was brought forward to March 24.
Puran later lashed out at the delay in the hearing. Standing in the court compound, he told reporters the situation he now faced with his client was a distressing one. According to him, the police have no reason to stall.
He pointed out that the men were detained for almost a week before charges were filed. This, he said, was sufficient time to get the case off the ground but the police are in no such position.
Supporters of King crammed the court yard after breaching security at the gate and called for his immediate release. Though police were present at the court they failed to stop the crowd from rushing in.
The large gathering accused Hinds of implicating King and repeatedly howled at police ranks to free King and keep Hinds. "Ashton be strong" and "Free innocent Ashton" were among the words that rang out.
Later, a brawl broke out between police ranks and King's supporters after the crowd spotted him emerging from the prison chute. A contingent of female supporters rushed to King and offered words of encouragement.
Fighting off supporters, police ranks managed to extricate King and carted him off into the court lock-up. Before the intervention, King and Hinds also voiced disapproval at the delay in the hearing.
Swearing his innocence, King said he has been in imprisoned for no real reason and the police are asking him to stay on longer by delaying the hearing.
He said that his innocence lies in the eyes of those who know him and by that measure justice will fall in his favour. According to him, the law will soon see that his hands are clean.
He asserted that in time, the truth will come out and he will be acquitted of the charge against him. Maintaining that he knows nothing of the drive-by shooting King urged his supporters to keep the faith and hold out belief in what is to come: freedom.
Hinds then had his say, setting the record straight on the black tea and milk issue he had raised at his first court appearance.
Hinds said that people took his words out of context and started spreading propaganda. Disclosing the rationale behind his now famous outburst, he said he does not work for the PPP Government and has never acted under their leadership.
Having served under the PNC regime, he said he left that party because of its weak rule. He said that the PNC wants to see him imprisoned and are having a field day now that he is incarcerated. Taking a jab at Opposition Leader Robert Corbin he said that the present PNC administration is weak.
"Corbin weak, He ain't no leader and I ain't know who he could lead. I know that they want to bring me down. What the PNC needs is a man like Raphael Trotman as leader then the party might stand some ground," Hinds declared.
Hinds said that he was never in any death squad. He said he had known alleged death squad member Axel Williams but was unaware of Williams' involvement in crimes.
He said he and Williams had been taxi-drivers and a friendship later developed. He said he never made contact with Home Affairs Minister Ronald Gajraj or telephoned the minister.
He said he earned his living by selling in the market where he is the holder of two stalls.
"Is hard I work for what I have and people only seeing one side of things. I know what is me own and how I get them", he said.
King who is the proprietor of a city parlour and Hinds who is an ex-policeman were implicated along with Thomas of Auby's Wine Bar in the January 5 drive-by shooting of Shafeek Bacchus.
Bacchus' brother George who openly admitted to being an ex-informant for a death squad later claimed he saw the shooters in a car minutes after his brother was shot and killed.