Fresh trial for Rajaee Ali on wild-meat charge

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

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ALLEGED gang leader and murder accused Rajaee Ali will have to face a new trial on a charge of possession of the carcass of a protected animal outside the hunting season.

On April 24, Justices of Appeal Alice Yorke-Soo Hon and Malcolm Holdip allowed the State’s appeal of a magistrate’s decision to free him of the 2014 charge.

They have ordered a new trial for Ali before another magistrate.

The State had contended that Debby Ann Bassaw got it wrong when she upheld a no-case submission in Ali’s case in April 2019.

In their ruling, the judges held that the prosecution had made out a prima-facie case and there was sufficient evidence to establish the case against Ali.

“Therefore, we hold that the magistrate’s decision to uphold the no-case submission was erroneous.”

Ali and two other men were arrested by police in Santa Rosa on August 2, 2014.

Police allegedly found a green bag containing the frozen carcass of a lappe in a vehicle.

Ali’s attorney Mark Seepersad had contended that prosecutors failed to prove the headless carcass belonged to a protected animal under the Conservation of Wildlife Act. The legislation makes it an offence to hunt a protected animal or possess its carcass outside the permitted period.

Deputy DPP Sabrina Dougdeen-Jaglal argued that the game warden who testified for the prosecution was entitled to make his identification based on his experience.

She also contended that the magistrate misconstrued the evidence in dismissing the case. The maximum penalty for the offence is a $1,000 fine or three months’ imprisonment.

Ali is awaiting trial with nine members of his alleged gang for murdering independent senator Dana Seetahal, SC, on May 4, 2014. Hei and four others have also been committed to stand trial for conspiring to murder Slam 100.5 announcer Kevaughn “Lurbz” Savory on November 27, 2014.

Attorney Roshan Tota-Maharaj also represented Ali.