Objection to judge pushes back Benschop retrial
December 9, 2006
JUSTICE Jainarayan Singh said yesterday that treason accused Mark Benschop is not likely to face his retrial until next year.
The prisoner is number 16 on the judge’s list of cases at the present criminal sessions of the Demerara Assizes.
But Justice Singh told the Guyana Chronicle he is now debarred from the trial because Defence Counsel Basil Williams has written Chief Justice Carl Singh objecting to him hearing the case.
The objection is based on the fact that Justice Jainarayan Singh had refused Benschop bail and, in another matter, had ruled the case should not supercede that of others who were previously indicted.
Justice Jainarayan Singh said it means that Benschop would have to appear before a different judge at the January 2007 criminal sessions.
Benschop was charged with the capital offence on July 3, 2002 since when he has been on remand in jail because, like murder, such accused are not allowed pre-trial freedom.
The remanded prisoner was, however, tried before Justice Winston Moore but the jury verdict, on December 9, 2004, was in the proportion of 11 to 1, not unanimous as required by law.
That judge, therefore, had no alternative but to order a new trial and, from then, a number of constitutional motions have failed to secure the retrial or Benschop’s liberty, through a withdrawal of the indictment by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).