Terrence Sugrim conducts own defence after lawyers depart
-extradition ruling expected today
Wednesday, September 12th 2007
Magistrate Hazel Octive-Hamilton will today rule on whether Terrence Sugrim, who is wanted in the United States for allegedly importing drugs, will be extradited following an extraordinary session yesterday in which the suspect conducted his own defence after his lawyers left court.
Sugrim broke his silence for the first time at the Georgetown Magistrate's Court. Both of his attorneys, Glen Hanoman and Nigel Hughes, left the courtroom one after the other, earlier in the proceedings saying that they had matters to attend to in the High Court. The Magistrate refused to adjourn the case to another date and continued in their absence with Sugrim acting as his own defence attorney after he was denied the opportunity to seek new counsel. Sugrim reiterated his request for new counsel adding that, "in all fairness you are choosing to proceed without my counsel."
Acting Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack closed her case after three witnesses had been called and more documents tendered. The DPP pointed out that Hanoman had not withdrawn his appearance on behalf of the fugitive. She added that the extradition hearing began before any criminal matter that Hanoman had in the High Court yesterday and that he chose to represent another client and so did Hughes.
Ambassador Elisabeth Harper, Director General at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, continued her testimony stating that she had received a photograph of Sugrim in a bundle from the US Department of Prisons with the name Lugard Thompson and that she stamped her 'date received' stamp on the diplomatic note, wrote on it and initialled it. Harper said she then sent the documents to the Ministry of Home Affairs. Those documents were then tendered as exhibit B 1-19. Harper also testified that the Minister of Foreign Affairs issued a certificate under the Fugitive Offenders Act in relation to an extradition request, by the United States, for Terrence Sugrim; alias Terrence Emanuel Sugrim, Lugard Thompson, Lugard Winter Thompson and Raul Lucas. She collected the certificate with an attachment. This was also tendered into evidence as exhibit C 1-11.
Before Harper began her testimony only Hughes was present in court and he related that his colleague Hanoman was in the High Court. He then requested an adjournment on behalf of Hanoman, stating that he did not possess the requisite skills to represent the person who was appearing before the court.
In response, the DDP said Hughes was far senior to Hanoman both at the bar and in practice and that she would be guided by the Court's notes on whether he was appearing together with Hanoman. She added that under the circumstances there would be no need for an adjournment.
Magistrate Octive-Hamilton, after checking her records, and seeing that Hughes was appearing in association with Hanoman overruled his submission adding that he was competent and senior to Hanoman. Hughes then submitted that as far as his representation of the man was concerned he is junior to Hanoman and is only there as a consultant to assist him. Sugrim then said, "excuse me I would like Mr Hanoman to be present. I don't want Mr Hughes alone to appear. I want Mr Hanoman." The Magistrate then told him that Hughes had not withdrawn his appearance and that the proceedings would continue.
During Harper's testimony before the documents were tendered, Hughes was given an opportunity to peruse them. He again said that Hanoman was the principal attorney who was responsible for the conduct of the proceedings. In listing his objections, Hughes said that Hanoman should be afforded the opportunity to review the documents since he had conducted extensive interviews with the man. Hughes added that in order to protect the rights of the man in the dock he was politely asking the court to afford Hanoman the opportunity to see the documents and make legal submissions on them. He then submitted that in his opinion the witness had identified a covering note and not the remaining pages and in the circumstances the court may want to consider whether all the evidence required was met.
Ali-Hack again said that Hughes was more senior and experienced at the bar and practice than Hanoman. She added that Hanoman knew that they were continuing yesterday and that it was his duty, if he had particular instructions from his client, to share it with Hughes. The Magistrate then overruled Hughes's submission.
After the two documents were tendered Hanoman arrived and asked for copies of all the pages, so that he could peruse them before cross-examining the witness. He added that he would need more than a few minutes to go through them. He also requested copies of the documents to prepare his defence. Hanoman then quoted from a section of an Act.
Ali-Hack told the court that the section mentioned was not relevant as it relates to a charge and that there was no charge in Guyana against Sugrim as it relates to the proceedings. She said that the proceeding was governed by the Fugitive Offenders Act and that these are special proceedings. She added that the documents were tendered into evidence in compliance with a certain section. The witness she said cannot be challenged or questioned on any of the documents tendered.
According to Ali-Hack the extradition is based on the documents and the case succeeds or falls on the documents that were sent. The court, she said, can only consider documents that were duly authenticated.
Hanoman then responded that Guyana has a Constitution and that the Fugitive Offender's Act could not upset what was set out in the Constitution. He then added that a part of an Act stated that the hearing must be conducted as similar and nearly as possible to a preliminary inquiry (PI).
Magistrate Octive-Hamilton then told the attorney that at a PI copies of the exhibits are not handed over; they are only given for perusal. She then said that she would make the documents available for the defence to see. Hanoman's request was then overruled.
Hanoman then asked what prejudice would occur if the defence attorneys were given copies of the exhibits. He added that he needed a minimum of three days to examine the exhibits and that if he was not given that time he would be prejudiced in his cross-examination. Hanoman further submitted that under the circumstances he feels that it is necessary to move to the High Court on a constitutional question to determine the rights and facilities that are guaranteed and afforded to a person subject to extradition proceeding. He then requested an adjournment to go to the High Court. He added that he could not start perusing the documents then as he was duty bound to attend an assizes matter after lunch and that he would not be able to attend court for the remainder of the afternoon and for the next ten days.
The DPP then objected to the defence being granted an adjournment to have copies of the documents and urged the court to rule that the extradition hearing continue. The Magistrate then overruled the defence's submissions.
Hanoman was then given the documents to peruse and after 15 minutes the Magistrate asked him whether he wanted to question the witness. Hanoman then indicated that he was not finished perusing the documents but the court instructed him to proceed. He then said that he was not fully prepared and the court collected the documents, excused the witness and continued the hearing.
Just as the next witness was called Hanoman said that he had to leave to go to the High Court and the Magistrate informed him that the matter was continuing.
After Hanoman left Hughes also indicated that he had to be in the High Court and made a few observations before he left. Hughes said that in the short time that he and Hanoman were given to peruse the documents they noticed irregularities. He said that there were two authorities to proceed one dated July 6 and the other, a photocopy, dated August 24. The attorney said that they were alarmed by the existence of these two authorities to proceed in the court file one of which preceded any request made by the US government. He added that the other documents included photographs and extracts from the Stabroek News internet edition, received after both authorities to proceed had been issued by the minister. He said that, coupled with the fact that the person before the court did not enjoy the protection of the Constitution, has severely impaired the defence's ability to discharge their professional responsibility to their client. He then requested upon his leave that the man in the dock be afforded the opportunity to be represented by Hanoman or counsel who possessed the requisite skills.
The Magistrate then told him that she would not permit same and that the matter would proceed in his absence.
The DPP then said that none of Hughes' submissions had any legal merit and that it was merely an application for him to leave the court.
Senior Confidential Secretary to the Minister of Home Affairs, Jocelyn Anderson, testified about her duties of receiving and dispatching mail and about the documents received by the minister. She spoke also about the two authorities to proceed. She was shown exhibit A and B and when it came time for Sugrim to see it he refused saying that he wanted a new attorney and that he was taken by surprise by the absence of his attorneys. He added that he would have a question for the witness through his attorney.
The Magistrate told him his lawyers were not present and refused his application for new lawyers.
The last witness to testify for the prosecution was Assistant Superintendent of Police Norris Riddle who told the court that Magistrate Brassington Reynolds on July 1, 2004, had issued a provisional warrant for Sugrim who is wanted for conspiracy to distribute more than 5 kilogrammes of cocaine in the USA. He added that a copy of that document is kept at the Narcotics Branch at the CID Headquarters, Eve Leary, where he is attached and that he has access to it. On June 28, Riddle said that he, along with a party of policemen and a woman went to Lot 91 Parfait, La Grange, West Bank Demerara, where they found Sugrim and arrested him.
Riddle told the court that he told Sugrim why he was there and that the man responded that his name was Raul Lucas. Riddle said he cautioned him and Sugrim replied "It does not have to happen this way. I will make all of you alright for the rest of your lives." He added that neither he nor anyone else made any threats to Sugrim. Riddle also said that Sugrim later produced a Guyana driver's license with the name Lucas and he took possession of the photo and when he compared it to the photo he had at headquarters he saw the same person. He also said he compared it to the national registration and immigration passport records. The prosecutor then asked about the documents.
Sugrim objected saying that this was hearsay. The DPP then rephrased her question. Sugrim also later objected saying that the prosecution was leading the witness. He then cross-examined the witness asking whether when he was arrested if the conversation the officer said they had was between the two of them or whether other officers were around. The witness then replied that other officers were around.