Attorney took cocaine, ecstasy, pills and phones into Columbus jail, investigator says

In consideration of Section 21 of the country’s  Constitution, the ongoing delay of the cocaine smuggling case could be a violation as Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Blamo Dixon said yesterday upon request by the prosecution.

By Abednego Davis

A plethora of excuses given by government lawyers since the commencement of the US$100 million alleged cocaine smuggling case is causing a delay in violation of Article 21 of  the country’s  Constitution.

That chapter of the constitution provides that among other things…. “Upon indictment by Grand Jury; and in all such cases, the accused shall have the right to a speedy, public, and impartial trial by a jury of the vicinity, unless such person shall, with appropriate understanding, expressly waive the right to a jury trial.”

However, this is not the case, as Criminal Court ‘C’ Judge Blamo Dixon once again postponed the argument into the case upon prosecution’s request. This brings to two in less than four days that the case had been suspended based on the request of the prosecution.

The trial was previously suspended last March 30; the prosecution claimed that one of their three remaining witnesses was not prepared to testify. That request was later accepted by Dixon though the defense lawyers had resisted.

Dixon then wasted no time rescheduling the trial for April 3, to give the prosecution additional time to prepare its witness, whose testimony they claimed is important.

At Monday’s hearing which was intended for the prosecution to examine the witness testimony, the prosecution then showed up without any witness, saying that the witness was sick and was unable to appear in court to testify.  The request for postponement was through an application to the court.

The prosecution told the Court that their witness who was supposed to testify today suddenly felt ill and would not show up.  According to the prosecution, they spoke with the hospital authority and the witness’ doctor, both of whom have confirmed the illness.

“In this backdrop, we prayed for continuance in this case to April 4, so the witness can be here to take the stand,” the application claimed.

However, the prosecution failed to name the hospital and the doctor that is attending to the ailing witness, even though there are three more witnesses left for the prosecution to conclude their side of the argument of the case — and none could appear.

The defense team on the other hand argued that while the illness of witnesses is valid for postponement of a trial, they observed on the indictment that contained the charges against the defendants, the prosecution listed the total number of eight (8) witnesses and five have already testified leaving the balance of three witnesses who should have been made available to testify.

“The information that the prosecuting attorney gave about the illness of the witness was to be true, which the defendant does not dispute, nevertheless there are two other witnesses out of the eight who could have taken the stand today,” the defense counsel argued. “Moreover, the name of the witness that is said to be ill was not disclosed.”

The defense lawyers however, asked Dixon to caution the prosecution that they should be ready at all times to proceed with the trial in the interest of the constitutional rights of the defendants to be accorded speedy trial

Another instance of delay in the case, according to Dixon, was the inability of the Ministry of Justice (MoJ), to provide sufficient fuel to the bus, commuting the defendants to court on time.

Dixon’s assertion comes after he said he had received information that the ministry was not providing fuel to the bus that is commuting the defendants from their cells to the court.

According to Dixon, it is the correction officers who out of their own pockets were fueling the bus, which failure was causing the defendants to come to court late.

“The information the court received reveals that it was the correction officer who put money together to buy one (1) gallon of fuel for the said bus. The prosecution should take note and act accordingly,” Dixon openly said after he postponed the trial.

Dixon further warned the ministry by saying, “the MoJ is hereby ordered to provide sufficient fuel for the said bus so that the defendants will be brought to court on time.”

A judicial worker assigned to the case confided to the Daily Observer that the shortage of fuel for the bus was delaying the speedy trial of the case.

“The case was expected to start by 10:30, but most often the defendants for lack of fuel and the correction officer raising money to buy it, made them appear in court very late, sometimes 12noon,” the judicial workers said.

“Ultimately, the government still has the responsibility to ensure that all criminal defendants receive a speedy trial,” a senior lawyer said.

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