Judge discharges cops accused of assaulting pundit’s assistant

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

EARLIER this week, a High Court judge permanently stayed the indictment against two police officers accused of beating a man in Fyzabad in 2006.

Justice Norton Jack’s ruling brings to an end criminal proceedings against Dennis Sooknanan and Brian Rambhajan.

Jack immediately discharged the two officers after he gave his ruling at a virtual hearing in the San Fernando High Court.

Sooknanan and Rambhajan were before him charged with assaulting Rabindranath Choon, occasioning him actual bodily harm, on August 2, 2006.

The Director of Public Prosecutions filed the indictment against them in September 2012.

Choon, a pundit’s assistant, had alleged he was riding his bicycle along Ackbar Trace, Fyzabad when he was stopped by police officers, including Sookanan and Rambhajan. He said they beat him, threw him into a police vehicle and took him to the Oropouche police station, where they beat him again.

Choon subsequently died before the police officers’ trial could begin.

Sooknanan’s attorneys Michael Rooplal and Vishan Girwar, filed an application to have the proceedings against him stayed and joining in was Rambhajan’ attorney Kevin Ratiram.

Rooplal argued because of the delay in the start of the trial and Choon’s death before he could testify, a jury would have been deprived of his first-hand account of what allegedly took place and the defence would also have been hamstrung by being unable to cross-examine him to test his testimony before a jury.

Rooplal further argued although Choon was cross-examined at the committal proceedings at the Siparia Magistrates Court, his defence at trial would have been restricted from further pressing him, especially since the prosecution had failed to disclose certain forms and documents related to an identification parade, which caused incurable prejudice to his client.

In his ruling, Jack agreed with the defence submissions, ordered the indictment stayed and immediately dischargedthe two police officers.

The State was represented by prosecutor Charmaine Samuel.