Attorneys representing the State are expected to respond later today in the judicial review hearing involving the decision of Attorney General Anand Ramlogan to sign extradition warrants for businessmen Ishwar Galbaransingh and Steve Ferguson.
Galbaransingh and Ferguson are 2 of the 9 persons facing corruption charges stemming from the construction tactics used in constructing the Piarco International Airport; the controversial new international airport for Trinidad and Tobago (T&T).
The men’s attorneys contend the decision of Attorney General Ramlogan to sign their clients’ extradition warrants was unfair and biased. Queen’s Counsel Edward Fitzgerald and Andrew Mitchell both made the point before Justice Ronnie Boodoosingh in the Port-of-Spain High Court at the start of proceedings on the AG’s decision.
Fitzgerald said when Ramlogan invited the parties involved to make submissions; his client was not allowed to respond to adverse claims made against him. Fitzgerald also claimed the decision was against the principles of natural justice.
He said before signing the warrants on October 9 last year, Ramlogan took into consideration the advice of attorney James Lewis who represented the interests of the US throughout previous proceedings. Fitzgerald questioned Lewis’s impartiality in giving the advice to Ramlogan.
The men’s attorneys contended their clients should face trial in T&T instead of the United States for alleged fraud arising out of the construction of the Piarco International Airport terminal since the alleged crime took place and had the most impact on the citizens of T&T.
In his submission yesterday, defense attorney Mitchell said: “One only has to give a millisecond of thought to decide where is the best forum for these matters to be prosecuted.” Mitchell, who described the reasoning for extradition as extraordinary and laughable, said the matter should go on trial in T&T because the offence allegedly occurred and had greater interest in T&T.
Galbaransingh is wanted in the US on a 13-count indictment, including money laundering charges involving $1 million (TT$6.3 million) between June 19 and December 10, 2001.
Ferguson, former Maritime General CEO, is wanted on an 82-count indictment, including money-laundering charges involving $3,255,345 (TT$20,508,673) alleged to have occurred from November 24, 2000, to March 28, 2002.
The charges stemmed from alleged misconduct in the construction of the $1.6 billion Piarco International Airport terminal. Ferguson’s legal team includes Fitzgerald, Fyard Hosein, SC, Rishi Dass and Sasha Bridgmohansingh, while Mitchell and attorney Rajiv Persad represent Galbaransingh.
Senior counsel Avory Sinanan and attorney Kelvin Ramkisson represent the AG in the matter which continues today.
The majority of this article was written by Derek Achong and published by Guardian Media on July 26, 2011.
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