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Acting CoP first on stand in Partap’s trial (with CNC3 video)

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Tuesday, May 14, 2013
Colin Partap, right, walks along St Vincent Street after leaving the Port-of-Spain Magistrates court yesterday with his lawyers Ravi Rajcoomar, left, Jagdeo Singh and Larry Lalla. PHOTO: ABRAHAM DIAZ

Acting Police Commissioner Stephen Williams was the first witness to be cross-examined as the trial involving former junior National Security Minister Collin Partap began yesterday. During his hour-long stay in the box, Williams testified he had been “guided and advised” by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Roger Gaspard, about which charge to lay against Partap. Pressed by lead defence attorney Israel Khan, SC, during the cross-examination as to why he had sought the DPP’s advice before laying the charge, Williams said: “Based on the circumstances of this matter and as we were treading into the exploration of new law in T&T, I thought it fit to seek the DPP’s determination.”

 

 

William said his interaction with the DPP took the form of written correspondence. Partap, who was fired by Prime Minister Kamla Persad-Bissessar nine months ago, pleaded not guilty to the charge that on August 26, 2012, at the corner of Keate and Frederick Streets, Port-of-Spain, being the driver of vehicle PCM 1016 and without reasonable excuse, he failed to provide a breath specimen to a police constable when requested. Partap, who lives at George Village, Tableland, was fired on August 26, hours after he was stopped by police after leaving a popular Port-of-Spain nightclub. Telling the court he had completed filing 12 witness statements late last Thursday, prosecutor George Busby said he had one last statement to file, along with some CCTV footage which would be submitted to the court.

 

Busby said although he had completed the “lion’s share” of the work so the matter could proceed, he was not ready, as all the witnesses were not available. Outraged by Busby’s admission, Khan asked who was running the court, as he said the defence team had worked over the weekend to ensure they were ready to proceed yesterday. Demanding answers, Khan lashed out as he called for Busby to be given a “strong reprimand” for contempt of court, as well as presuming the defence would not be in a state of readiness yesterday. Khan joked  he wanted to finish the matter quickly as there was “a vacancy for a Minister of National Security.”

 

Partap trial begins

 

 

Khan accused Busby of deliberately flouting the court’s orders, following the notice to the witnesses on the last occasion that they should return to court yesterday. Accepting blame, Busby who is known for his preparedness, said: “I did not intentionally or deliberately flout the court’s order. I genuinely did not remember. In completeness, it would not have been fair to start the matter today (yesterday) as the statements had been filed and served last Thursday and Friday, as a result of things out of my control.” Pressing on with the matter, Ayers-Caesar re-read the charge to Partap. Maintaining his not guilty plea, Partap took a seat in the dock as Busby submitted 12 statements from witnesses. Among them were statements from Williams, as well as PCs Vijay Omardath, John Victory and Terry Cooper; Cpls Andy Boyce and Ken Cephus; Insp Brandon John and WPCs Harriet Baptiste and Susan Daniel, which were all sworn and filed between May 8 and 10.

 

Reading the statements aloud, Busby was challenged by Jagdeo Singh as he acceded to a request by the chief magistrate not to reveal certain information on security measures in open court as the public and press were present. Singh argued that once the statement had been tendered in evidence, it was now in the public domain. Cross-examined by Khan, Williams said police at the scene on the night did not have the proper instruments to do a roadside breath test and that was why Partap was taken to the Belmont Police Station as there were no technicians on site to administer the test. Williams said he was aware the test ought to be done on the spot or as near as possible, once police suspected the individual had consumed alcohol beyond the legal limit and that was why Partap was taken to the station.

 

Asked what caused him to get out of bed around 5 am to rush to Partap’s assistance, Williams said the incident involved a minister and police officers and Partap had said he felt targeted, as he had been stopped and questioned about the flashing lights on the car he was driving. Although the matter was scheduled for 10 am, Partap arrived at court around 9.30 am, accompanied by his battery of attorneys, led by Khan, including Larry Lalla, Ravi Rajcoomar, Jagdeo Singh, Wayne Sturge, Keith Scotland and Daniel Khan. The matter is set to resume at 10 am tomorrow.  


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