Criminal Bar Association lauds Charles

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Akili Charles –

The Criminal Bar Association expressed condolences to the family of Akili Charles, the man whose trial was pivotal in the Appeal Court’s ruling that people charged with murder can apply for bail, after he was shot dead on Saturday.

The association lauded him as a champion to the cause of pretrial bail and against the delay of justice.

“Akili Charles championed a cause whilst incarcerated and continued to champion that cause well beyond his acquittal when there was no longer any personal benefit to him after having lost nine years of his life incarcerated before his eventual discharge.”

“Beyond his advocacy for pretrial bail for charges of Capital murder, Charles sought to advocate for much needed changes in the Criminal Justice System now plagued with endemic delay, which continues to result in citizens being held without trials for periods far in excess of ten years, delays which undermines the rule of law and renders otiose our constitutional protections and farcical, the presumption of innocence,” the association said in a release.

The association added that Charles also advocated against gang activity and recruitment in his own area.

“The executive of the Criminal Bar on the occasion of Emancipation Day, recognises the efforts of Akili Charles who fought to save the younger generation in his community from becoming part of the gang culture which in the last 20 years has disproportionately affected urban Afro Trinidadian youth.”

“It is hoped that the untimely death of Akili Charles would not be in vain, as such we call on the relevant stakeholders to engage in a collaborative effort and take immediate steps to continue the work of rescuing the urban youth from the now pervasive gang culture.”

According to reports, 42-year-old Charles was sitting on a chair near his home on Covigne Road, Diego Martin at about 10 pm on Saturday when two men approached him and shot him several times before running off. He died at the scene.

The team of attorneys which pleaded his case – Anand Ramlogan, SC, Ganesh Saroop and Jayanti Lutchmedial condemned his murder.

In a statement the attorneys said it is likely that people would wonder whether his murder was linked to his success in court.

Charles was charged with the 2010 murder of Russel Antoine, but was acquitted and in 2020 was awarded compensation of almost $300,000 for breaches of his rights. Last Thursday, 12 years after he was charged with the murder, the Privy Council in England said the Bail Act which denied the right to bail while on a murder charge, was unconstitutional.