Khan objects to Police Complaints Authority’s lawyer
Senior Counsel Israel Khan objected yesterday to the presence of a lawyer from the Police Complaints Authority (PCA) in court for the start of the preliminary inquiry into the shooting deaths of three people last year. Seven police officers are charged with the murder of Alana Duncan, Abigail Johnson and Kerron “Fingers” Eccles.
The preliminary inquiry was listed to begin yesterday before Princes Town First Court magistrate Debra Quintyne. The officers charged with the July 21, 2011, triple murders are acting Corporal Khemraj Sahadeo, and PCs Antonio Ramdhin, Glen Singh, Roger Nicholas, Renaldo Rivero and Safraz Juman and Nicole Clement.
Before yesterday’s premature adjournment, owing to Clement’s being ill, Khan expressed outrage after PCA attorney Alicia Piper appeared in court to take notes of the proceedings. Khan, who together with Ulric Skerritt and Celeste Jules, appears for all the male officers, objected to her presence. He said she was sent to “macco the judiciary (to see) that they do everything proper.”
Piper said she was instructed by PCA director Gillian Lucky to attend because the PCA had an interest in the matter. She said the authority has a “watching brief,” since it falls under the remit of the PCA under Section 21 Chapter 15.5 of the Police Complaints Authority Act.
This section gives the authority to investigate allegations of criminal acts and corruption committed by police. “How does that give you a watching brief?” Quintyne asked. Piper said her presence was just to monitor the inquiry. Khan retorted: “This is getting totally out of hand.” He said Lucky had been making statements and demanding police give her statements and the authority’s attorneys say nothing.
“This is the judiciary. They have no business sitting and taking notes,” he said. Piper contended that Section 21 gives the authority the power to be in court. “How do you get the power to monitor or observe the judiciary?” the magistrate asked. Khan said there must be a separation of powers as the judiciary and the authority are two independent bodies.
Piper submitted that the authority’s powers were invoked when complaints were made in relation to the matter. Quintyne asked: “What gives them the right to monitor these proceedings?” Khan called on the magistrate to send a message to Lucky since, he said, she had been interfering in police business. He vehemently objected to Piper’s having a “watching brief” in the matter and taking notes or sitting in the public gallery.
Clement’s attorney Pamela Elder, SC, instructed by Richard Mason, also expressed concern. “My major concern is her recording of evidence and the confidentiality of that evidence. I do not know, if she takes notes, what will happen to those notes,” she said.
Quintyne agreed since she said inquiries have certain perimeters within which they operate. Director of Public Prosecutions, Roger Gaspard, SC, said he would discuss the matter with Lucky. Quintyne said it was an unfortunate situation, since Piper is young and inexperienced.