The Court of Appeal has affirmed a directive by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack for US-based Guyanese Marcus Bisram to be committed to stand trial for the October 2016 murder of Berbice carpenter Faiyaz Narinedatt.
In the unanimous decision delivered on Monday, Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards overturned an order of certiorari quashing the DPP’s directive which was granted by the High Court in June 2020.
Following a Preliminary Inquiry, Magistrate Renita Singh had discharged the murder charge against Bisram citing insufficient evidence.
Immediately after the discharge, the DPP invoked her powers under Section 72 (1) and (2) (ii) (b) of the Criminal Law Offences Act, by requesting the depositions in the matter and directed the Magistrate to reopen the inquiry with a view of committing Bisram.
The Magistrate duly complied and Bisram was rearrested and placed on remand pending trial at the High Court in Berbice. Through judicial review proceedings, Bisram’s lawyers asked that the DPP’s directive for committal be quashed as it was unlawful.
After reviewing the evidence from the depositions, High Court Judge Simone Morris-Ramlall quashed as being unlawful the DPP’s directive and among other things, granted an order prohibiting the DPP from bringing a murder indictment against Bisram.
Dissatisfied with the judge’s decision, the DPP filed an appeal asking that it be overturned.
Ali-Hack contends that her directive was lawful. She contends that there is sufficient evidence against Bisram to warrant a committal for him to face trial by a jury before a judge. The DPP also contends that the evidence is sufficient, and any reasonable jury, if properly directed, can safely convict.
Bisram’s lawyer, Arudranauth Gossai, on the other hand, had asked the appellate court to uphold the decision of the High Court. Given the provisions of Article 122 A of the Constitution of Guyana, Gossai contended that the DPP’s directive for Bisram to be committed, even though he was discharged after a PI, amounts to obvious judicial interference.
Following the Appeal Court’s ruling today, Bisram is likely to be handed over to the police to be placed on remand pending his trial.
However, his lawyer has signalled his intention to move to the Caribbean Court of Justice (CCJ).