The legal battle between Trinidadian Senior Counsel, Israel Khan who is leading the prosecution’s case and Gildon Richards who is presenting the case for the defense, is intensifying in the matter of alleged incitement by opposition leader Lennox Linton.
On June 18, 2019, the defense cross examined Nadette Langford who told the court that on February 7 at about 7:10am she went to work as usual to her office on 38 Cork Street which houses the Disaster Vulnerability Response Project (DVRP) and left at 4.25pm. The following day, February 8, she returned at 7:25am and observed a hole in the office of the Co-ordinator.
“I didn’t at that time know what caused the hole. I went to the office and observed shattered glasses and about five stones. I didn’t see that when I left at 4:25pm on February 7. However, I can’t tell the court if the glass was broken on the 7th or 8th of February,” she said.
Laurel Abraham Corbette recalled visiting her building which was then located on 22 Cork Street, on February 7, at about 5pm. “All windows and equipments were functioning. I did not return on that day…I returned on February 8 at about 8:30am and made observations; front part of building had lots of stones and windows shattered,” she said.
When asked if she knew how the stones got there she said, “I do not know how the stones got there and don’t know who put them there.”
It was at this point that lead counsel for the prosecution, Israel Khan SC rose and objected to certain questions raised by the defense.
Khan told the court that the prosecution’s case is that the defendant (Linton) caused people to “vandalize, riot and arson in people’s place by his comments.”
“Your Honour, this case has the genesis of politics and you cannot suppress it,” he said.
This caused a heated argument between the lawyers and Magistrate Asquith Riviere admonished them to “leave the politics out of the case.”
Defense attorney Richards told the court that the case was built on hearsay and should not be allowed and asked that statements made by Corbette be struck out.
In the cross banter over the bar table Khan SC told the court that the events which happened was an attempt to overthrow the government of Dominica.
“It is a political case and you will hear it over and over. This is a serious case…if you want to change the government, do it by the ballots. A man tried to overthrow a government in Dominica a few years ago and was jailed for 12 years,” the lead prosecution counsel stated.
He also told the court that Linton had a right to express his views as enshrined in the Dominica constitution as he did.
“So why are you prosecuting him then?” the magistrate asked.
“I am not presiding over a political trial. This is an allegation of an alleged criminal offense. I am not interested in the political agenda and won’t be drawn into that. I am a sworn officer of the court and won’t be drawn into political debate,” Riviere stated.
After lengthy arguments, the magistrate decided to allow both sides to file written submissions after which he will make his ruling. It was then that Richards urged the court to grant a long adjournment since Linton, as opposition leader, he pointed out, has lots of overseas engagements given the fact that elections are near.
The court then gave the prosecution until July 2, 2019 to file and serve its submissions on the defense. The defense has until July 30, 2019 to respond, file and serve on the prosecution and the prosecution, until August 13, 2019 to file and serve its rebuttal.
The parties are to return to court on October 15, 2019 when the magistrate is expected to rule on the admissibility of statements made by Laurel Abraham Corbettte which were challenged by counsel for the defense, Gildon Richards.
The court has adjourned sine die the cases against former prime minister Edison James and former UWP senator Thompson Fontaine. However, the bench warrant issued for Fontaine’s arrest remains in effect.