Former President Bharrat Jagdeo
By Michael Younge
Former President Bharrat Jagdeo has moved to the High Court to challenge the instituting of what he deems to be an unlawful and politically inspired charge against him following the delivery of a historic and frank speech at a memorial service to honour People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Founder and late President, Dr Cheddi Jagan in March.
On Friday, Justice William Ramlall granted two preliminary orders prohibiting Magistrate Charlyn Artiga from making further movements in prosecuting Jagdeo while ordering her to show cause why the charge instituted against Jagdeo should not be quashed.
Attorney-at-Law Christopher Ram
Attorney-at -Law Mursaline Bacchus, speaking with Guyana Times on Friday, explained that Jagdeo’s lawyers felt that Friday was the opportune time to file the application in the Berbice High Court. He said that the lawyers had made submissions before the Magistrate requesting that the case be discharged or thrown out for various reasons, but she decided to proceed with the matter, rejecting their applications.
Bacchus said he could not anticipate the outcome of the matter which is now before Justice Ramlall, but explained that the Magistrate was expected to make a court appearance along with her Attorney, who is likely to be Attorney General Basil Williams. Asked why this was not done earlier, Bacchus maintained that “the strategy was not decided upon up until recently”.
The battery of lawyers is maintaining that Magistrate Artiga’s decision to charge Jagdeo with racial incitement was “irrational, unreasonable, erroneous in law and null and void”. They believe too that the Magistrate has no jurisdiction to inquire into the charge because it is legally defective and invalid and any attempt for her to so do, would amount to an abuse of court. Justice Ramlall is expected to preside over the case when it is heard properly on July 17, 2015 after which a decision will be made as to whether to make the temporary orders permanent or remove them.
On Monday last, Magistrate Artiga rebuked Attorney-at-Law Christopher Ram for making contact with her via telephone to raise issues he had with respect to the private charge he filed against Jagdeo. Such ex-parte contacts are viewed very negatively by the courts and can even result in cases being thrown out. The Attorney was forced to apologise to the Magistrate following his unethical actions. Meanwhile, the former President was unable to attend court owing to his ill health and the case was adjourned until July 13, 2015 when it was slated to be heard. Jagdeo was represented by Attorneys-at-Law Bacchus, Adrian Anamayah and Perry Gossai who submitted a medical report explaining his absence.