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DPP tells Appeal Court sufficient evidence for Marcus Bisram to stand trial for murder

DPP's power to overturn magistrates decisions not sitting well with the CCJ

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Shalimar Ali-Hack, SC, has maintained that her directive for Marcus 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.

Ali-Hack advanced this argument on Wednesday when the Court of Appeal continued hearing arguments in a case filed by her in which she is asking that a High Court order quashing her directive for committal be set aside.ย It was in June 2020, that Justice Simone Morris-Ramlall granted an order quashing a directive by the DPP to Magistrate Renita Singh for Bisram, to be committed to stand trial at the High Court in Berbice for Narinedattโ€™s killing.

Following the conclusion of a Preliminary Inquiry (PI), Magistrate Singh upheld a no-case submission by Bisramโ€™s lawyers, thereby discharging the charge against him. The DPP immediately invoked her powers under section 72 (1) and (2) (ii) (b) of the Criminal Law Offences Act, by requesting that the depositions from the PI be sent to her, and directed the Magistrate to reopen the inquiry with a view of committing Bisram. The Magistrate promptly complied with the DPPโ€™s directives. As a result, Bisram was rearrested.

Bisram, through his lawyers, Arudranauth Gossai, and others, later filed judicial review proceedings in the High Court.

โ€œThe evidence disclosed in the depositions did not meet the requisite evidentiary threshold to support calling upon [Bisram] to lead a defence at the close of the prosecutionโ€™s case. No prima facie case had been made out. The same applies to the committal of [Bisram]. 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,โ€ Justice Morris-Ramlall held in quashing the DPPโ€™s directive for committal.

Justice Morris-Ramlall, in analyzing the evidence against Bisram, noted that the evidence of the prosecutionโ€™s star witness โ€œChunilallโ€ [only name given] was totally discredited and rendered manifestly unreliable. According to the Judge, โ€œAt the close of the case for the prosecution, the evidence of Chunilall was totally discredited and rendered manifestly unreliable. The evidence remained substantially the same at the close of the case for the defence.โ€

โ€œThe 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.โ€ย The Judge pointed out that โ€œChunilallโ€™sโ€ evidence was the body and soul of the case against Bisram, and that there was no other evidence, direct or circumstantial linking him to the charge.

However, the DPP, in her arguments to the Court of Appeal, among other things, asserted, โ€œHis [Chuninall] evidence was admissible evidence and the issue that arises is the issue of credibility and that is an issue for a jury. This is a proper case for a committal, for it to go to trial in the High Court.โ€ The case is being heard by Chancellor of the Judiciary Justice Yonette Cummings-Edwards and Justices of Appeal Dawn Gregory-Barnes and Rishi Persaud, andย  continues on February 03, 2020.

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. It was also reported that Bisram made sexual advances to Narinedatt, a carpenter, who rejected them by slapping him. It was alleged that Bisram then ordered some men to kill Narinedatt whose lifeless body was later found on the roadway.