In a unanimous decision delivered on Monday, the Guyana Court of Appeal overturned a decision by High Court Judge Simone Morris-Ramlall to free US-based Guyanese Marcus Bisram of the October 2016 murder of Faiyaz Narinedatt, a carpenter and young father of two of Number 72 Village Corentyne, Berbice.
The court’s decision means that Bisram’s lawyer Arudranauth Gossai is likely to hand him over to the Police. Bisram will then be placed on remand pending his trial at the High Court in Berbice.
However, Gossai has given the Court of Appeal oral notice of his intention to file an appeal with the CCJ.
Almost one year ago, in June 2020, Justice Morris-Ramlall granted an order of certiorari quashing a directive by the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack, SC for Bisram to be committed to stand trial for Narinedatt’s murder at the High Court in Berbice.
At the time, Justice Morris-Ramlall said “the evidence is insufficient, or, in other words, it is not of the quality that a reasonable jury properly directed could safely convict on it. The state or extent of the evidence is a relevant factor that should have been taken into account by the DPP in arriving at her decisions.”
But in delivering Monday’s ruling, Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards said “We are of the view that the committal proceedings by the magistrate and the direction by the Director of Public Prosecutions would not have been invalid.”
Justice Cummings-Edwards underscored that the issues raised in this case would be better ventilated at the trial court before a jury.
The DPP has always maintained that her directive for Bisram to be committed to stand trial for murder is lawful, as there is sufficient evidence against him, for which a reasonable jury if properly directed, could safely convict. Bisram’s lawyer, on the other hand, had contended that the directive from the DPP to the Magistrate, to commit Bisram to stand trial, offends the separation of powers’ doctrine.
Gossai further contended that the determination of whether a prima facie case was made out is a judicial process that has to be determined by the Magistrate in the preliminary inquiry, and not the DPP.
Bisram was charged with the 2016 murder of Faiyaz Narinedatt, a young father of two of Number 72 Village Corentyne, Berbice. It was reported that on the night of October 31, 2016, Narinedatt attended a party hosted by Bisram where the defendant made sexual advances towards the carpenter, who rejected them by slapping him. It was alleged that Bisram then ordered some men to kill Narinedatt whose body was later found on the roadway.