June 3 2020
Marcus Bisram was yesterday freed for the second time since his extradition to Guyana after the High Court on Monday ruled that the order by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to reopen the preliminary inquiry (PI) into the murder charge levelled against him was unlawful.
The charge against Bisram alleged that between October 31, 2016 and November 1, 2016, at Number 70 Village, Corentyne, he counselled, procured and commanded Harri Paul Parsram, Radesh Motie, Niran Yacoob, Diodath Datt and Orlando Dickie to murder Faiyaz Narinedatt.
Bisram was extradited to Guyana from the United States in November last year. He was returned after a US appeals court ordered that he be extradited after denying both a rehearing of his appeal arguments and a motion to stay the extradition.
On November 21st, he was charged with the murder of Narinedatt and remanded to prison.
However, on March 30th, Magistrate Renita Singh discharged Bisram based on insufficient evidence. Hours after Bisram was rearrested as the DPP wrote the Magistrate and directed that she reopen the PI and commit Bisram to stand trial.
Section 72 (2) (i) and (ii) (a) and (b) of the Criminal Law Procedure Act, Chapter 10:01, empowers the DPP to so act.
The Magistrate subsequently reopened the inquiry but stuck to her ruling that there was insufficient evidence to commit Bisram to stand trial. She, however, committed Bisram to stand trial in the High Court.
As a result of this, Bisram, through his attorney, Sanjeev Datadin had approached the High Court to challenge the DPP’s directives.
The matter was heard before Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall.
He had argued that DPP’s decision was “unreasonable, unlawful and malicious,” and wanted the court to make declarations to this effect.
In his action before the High Court, Bisram was seeking an order of certiorari quashing the DPP’s decision as he had contended that it was made in bad faith, ignoring relevant considerations, was ultra vires, contrary to the rules of natural justice and made without any legal basis.
He was also seeking an order prohibiting Magistrate Singh from taking any steps regarding the charge against him based on the DPP’s instructions, except to discharge him.
He argued that his constitutional rights guaranteed in Article 144 of the Constitution have been breached and continued to be breached and that his arrest and continued incarceration were unlawful.
The Article states “If any person is charged with a criminal offence, then, unless the charge is withdrawn, the case shall be afforded a fair hearing within a reasonable time by an independent and impartial court established by law.”
Bisram also sought vindicatory damages against the DPP, Magistrate Singh, the Commissioner of Police, the Attorney General and State Prose-cutor Stacy Goodings, who are all listed as respondents in the case.
He contended that they had no lawful reason to have detained him and was hoping for an order from the court compelling them to release him forthwith.
He also wanted to be granted any further order the court deemed just and equitable to grant as well as costs.
Following Magistrate Singh’s announcement that she had received directions to commit Bisram, which she had said she would comply with as the order was clear, Datadin announced that he had filed High Court proceedings on his client’s behalf and asked the Magistrate to grant a stay until those matters were heard and determined.
This was, however, not granted.
Goodings had pointed out that there was no order or judgment from any other court compelling the magistrate to grant the stay.
Magistrate Singh had stressed that, “The only direction this court has is what is from DPP” and that there was no other order stating that the court could not comply with the DPP’s order.
The magistrate had noted that without any other order or stay she would not disobey the DPP’s order, “therefore the accused is hereby committed for the offence he is charged.”
Attorney Sanjeev Datadin yesterday told Stabroek News that following the conclusion of arguments on Monday, Justice Morris-Ramlall ruled that the DPP’s actions were unlawful.
“The DPP erred in law and misapplied her power under Section 72.S she did not act according to Section 72 of the Criminal Law Procedure Act. The DPP’s actions were unlawful,” Datadin said.
Datadin noted that Bisram will be filing a lawsuit against the DPP and the state.
“The next step is that he is freed. All is done for that. He will be taking action against the state for bringing these charges against him and for having been incarcerated for all this time. On the basis of no evidence, he intends to bring legal proceedings against the state for malicious prosecution and violation of his constitutional rights,” Datadin said.
Bisram was released around midday yesterday following the completion of all the necessary procedures, including the signing of all documents.