Passport case frustrates lawyers
Defense lawyers in a passport case here say they are "fed up" and it is time that their clients have their day in court. Two years have elapsed since a number of persons including Kimana James, former attorney general Bernard Wiltshire, Lyndon Marie and Harolda Henry were charged but the trial of the case has not begun.
They are facing charges of 14 counts of forgery, including the possession and uttering of forged Commonwealth of Dominica passports and birth certificates and "conspiring with persons unknown to sell a Dominican passport" a charge Wiltshire continues to bemoans as a "bogus charge" being imposed by a corrupt regime. The incidence allegedly took place between November 11, 2005 and March 31, 2011.
"I am sorry this matter came before me when I recluse myself from it for the reasons I so stated…it went before Mrs. Carette-George and she was forced out by the accused people. I have not seen any reason advanced by His Worship Mr. Lewis who also reclused himself and so I am sending the matter back before him for September 23, 2013," said Chief Magistrate Evelina Baptiste last week.
David Bruney, Wiltshire's lawyer told the court: "My request for the prosecutors is to re-look at the case very closely because the evidence is limited; they are yet to establish a prima facie case against him."
Wiltshire, for his part, despite the calls from his lawyer did not relent and from the prisoner's dock made many comments and accusations and had to be asked to restrain himself.
"People from the police department should have also been arrested and charged; also from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Immigration Department and the UK based Dominica High Commission in London," he said.
However, he was stopped by chief magistrate Baptiste who also expressed her frustration at the state of affairs.
"We are not here to discuss such…go and have an audience with the Chief of Police," she advised.
Baptiste added: "I would have loved to hear the matter…it is not fair to the parties that it has not yet even commenced; this preliminary inquiry (PI) is a waste of the court's time and resources." Another lawyer, Wayne Norde who represents James, added his piece.
"All we are saying is this cannot continue to happen. It is two years and my client cannot have her day in court, no one wants to hear the matter and it is frustrating. I am now asking for bail conditions to be varied, that her passport be returned so she can have a much need vacation."
Baptiste for her part seemly frustrated at the non-movement of the matter acceded to Norde's request but said, "I want to hear from the surety so she can know what is going on…I am minded to review the bail conditions."
The Magistrate's Court had objected to granting bail to Marie and Mitchell on two occasions but the men eventually were granted bail at the high court, each on $75, 000. Kimana James was granted $30,000 bail in a Magistrate's Court in Roseau.
Marie's lawyer was not in court but after asking them if they also needed their passports and then reviewing the files Baptiste said she would not be able to alter their bail conditions which was given by the High Court.
"You got bail at the High Court and it does not give the magistrate any power to alter so you have to go back there if you want it altered," she told Mitchell and Marie.
Harolda Henry told the court, "My God is awesome…I don't need passport."