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Venue of Vindra Naipaul’s trial being processed

By JADA LOUTOO Wednesday, November 21 2012

click on pic to zoom in
Vindra Naipaul-Coolman...
Vindra Naipaul-Coolman...

A proposed location for the Vindra Naipaul-Coolman murder trial is being processed by the administrative arm of the Judiciary, according to trial judge, Justice Mark Mohammed.

At a previous case management hearing, Justice Mohammed raised the possibility of having the trial heard in Chaguaramas, which was used in 1996 for the Dole Chadee murder trial.

However, he was informed that the court in Western Trinidad was in a state of disrepair. He did not identify the proposed site for holding the trial, but acknowledged that “it will take time” to finalise the arrangements.

It had been determined by both attorneys and security personnel that the courtrooms at the Hall of Justice in Port-of-Spain would be inadequate in terms of space considerations.

Special prosecutor, Israel Khan, SC — one of three Senior Counsel retained to prosecute the 12 men on trial for Naipaul-Coolman’s murder said he hoped that the trial gets started as early as possible.

Khan said the prosecution was confident that the trial could take place within six months and not 12 months as has been suggested before. According to the senior attorney, the entire Caribbean had its eyes on this case as it involves complex legal and scientific issues, including DNA analysis, and the prosecution intends to use new legal processes, and legislation, to ensure that the case was not bogged down by lengthy arguments on legal issues.

The matter has been adjourned to November 28, for another status hearing at which time it will be known if the proposed fee structure for public defenders to represent the 12 men accused of the murder, was approved by Cabinet.

If okayed by the Cabinet, some ten of the 12 men who are yet to secure legal representation will have attorneys appointed by the Legal Aid and Advisory Authority to represent them at their trial, which is expected to begin in the new year.

At least seven attorneys have agreed to the proposed fee structure, and all that is necessary is Cabinet’s approval before appointments are made.

The accused — Shervon Peters, Keida Garcia, Marlon and Earl Trimmingham, Ronald Armstrong, Antonio Charles, Joel Fraiser, Lyndon James, Allan Martins, Devon Peters, Anthony Dwayne Gloster, Jamille Garcia and Rafael Williams, were all charged with the December 2006 kidnapping and subsequent murder of Naipaul-Coolman.

The start of the trial had been delayed because of the issue of retainer fees.

Attorneys registered by the Legal Aid Board were said to be reluctant to accept appointments for lengthy trials because of the paltry retainer fees.

Senior Counsel Israel Khan, Gilbert Peterson and Dana Seetahal have been retained to prosecute the trial.

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