Murder accused challenges his committal for wife’s murder

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Rishi Ramgoolam – charged with murder of his wife, Nandita Harbukhan.

An engineer from Maraval accused of the murder of his common-law wife in 2018 has received the permission of the High Court to challenge a decision of the chief magistrate to commit him to stand trial.

Last week, Justice Margaret Mohammed granted leave to Rishi Ramgoolam to apply for judicial review.

Ramgoolam was charged with the murder of his 38-year-old common-law wife Nandita Harbukhan a year after she was found dead in bed. It was initially reported she died by suicide.

Ramgoolam wants the court to declare the committal order of Chief Magistrate Maria Busby Earle-Caddle on May 27, 2022, as unlawful. He also wants it quashed and a declaration that the decision by the chief magistrate to reject his no-case submission was also unlawful.

Ramgoolam’s legal team, led by Senior Counsel Ramesh Lawrence Maharaj, is claiming that Busby-Earle-Caddle was wrong to rule that prosecutors had established a prima facie case against their client due to alleged material contradictions in the evidence of Dr Hughvon des Vignes, who performed an autopsy on Harbukhan’s body and ruled that she died as a result of homicidal ligature strangulation.

Ramgoolam’s attorneys also maintain the prosecution’s case on the cause of death was discredited in cross-examination and was manifestly unreliable.

His lawsuit maintains the pathologist’s claims about the injuries allegedly suffered by Harbukhan were not supported by the notes he took during the autopsy.

It also noted that des Vignes did not return to court to continue his cross-examination before the prosecution was allowed to close its case.

No case submissions were made by the defence and it was dismissed by Busby Earle-Caddle who committed Ramgoolam to stand trial.

His lawsuit contends the preliminary inquiry was so unfair that it would be impossible for him to receive a fair trial.

A case management conference in Ramgoolam’s case is scheduled for December 12.

Ramgoolam is also represented by Jagdeo Singh, Michael Rooplal, and Nyala Badal.