Saturday, March 2, 2024

Back in court


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THREE MEN whose fight against extradition to the United States started almost seven years ago are now back in the Magistrates’ Court to face hearing in the matter.
This follows the Trinidadian-based Caribbean Court of Justice’s (CCJ) dismissal of their application for an extension of time to appeal their extradition hearing.
The three, Sean Gaskin, 46, of Kensington New Road, St Michael; Frederick Christopher Hawkesworth, 47, of Rock Dundo Heights, St Michael; and John Wayne Scantlebury, 46,of Gemswick, St Philip, reappeared in the District “A” Magistrates’ Court yesterday before Chief Magistrate Clyde Nicholls.
They had filed separate applications for the extension within which to seek special leave to appeal to the CCJ, as well as special leave to appeal.
The drug accused also submitted an application for leave to appeal to the CCJ as a poor person. 
However, the CCJ in its ruling said that while the appeals were filed separately they were heard together.
“Given that the circumstances surrounding each of them are almost identical it is accepted that they would either all succeed or all be denied,” the CCJ said.
The applications were heard by audio conference last January 28 and the court in dismissing the applications promised a written judgment at a later date.
The CCJ noted that the matter had been heard in the courts, and in July 2008 the Court of Appeal granted leave to appeal to the CCJ “as of right to an intended appellant in any civil or criminal proceedings which involve a question as to the interpretation of the Constitution”.
Two conditions
It said that the Court of Appeal imposed two conditions in granting leave to appeal to the CCJ, including that the applicants provide security for costs in the amount of $15 000 within 60 days from the date of the making of that court’s order.
The CCJ noted that the applicants did not comply with the Court of Appeal’s order and that no security for costs was provided. 
It said instead they filed a notice of appeal in December 2009 and took no further step until June last year when they filed an application to the Court of Appeal for leave to appeal in relation to the pending appeal. 
But the Court of Appeal dismissed this application for failure to comply with the rules and last December they filed an appeal before the CCJ.
In their case, the applicants claim they were impoverished and were and remained unable to provide security, and secondly, that the matters raised by the appeal involved a question as to the interpretation of the Constitution.
But in its ruling, the CCJ said: “We are wholly unimpressed by these submissions”, listing also several breaches the applicants made in getting the matter before the Port of Spain-based regional court, which serves as the island’s final court.“
This is a case where repeated and egregious breaches of the rules have served only to prolong the final disposition of a hearing before the Chief Magistrate that is still to be completed. There is no cogent explanation for the several breaches. 
“Since the liberty of the subject(s) was at stake the applicant(s) himself should not have been as dilatory as he was. In any event it is a profound error to believe that a litigant can flout the rules, thus rendering them utterly meaningless and then take shelter under cover of the overriding objective. In all these circumstances. we had no choice but to dismiss this application and to order costs to the Respondents,” the CCJ ruled.
Hearing in the extradition matter continues in the Magistrates’ Court on Friday. (CMC)

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