Friday, July 25, 2008

Roger Khan drug trial Judge writes Guyana for witness help

Roger Khan drug trial Judge writes Guyana for witness help

Posted By Stabroek News On July 19, 2008 @ 5:16 am In News | 28 Comments

Justice Dora L. Irizarry, who is presiding over the Roger Khan drug trial, has written to judicial authorities in Guyana seeking assistance in obtaining evidence from eight witnesses for the defence to be used in the trial set to commence on November 3.

In the letter, seen by this newspaper, the judge said her court is seeking “international judicial assistance to obtain evidence to be used in a criminal proceeding before this court… in accordance with Laws of Guyana, Chapter 5:01 Evidence (Proceedings in Foreign Tribunals) Act).

The judge said the witnesses “may have information material to the trial of this matter, but have indicated that they are unwilling to travel to the United States to testify at the trial.” She had therefore ordered on June 2 last that the depositions be taken locally, following a request by the defence.

The letter said the court needed the assistance in the interest of justice. “The assistance requested is that the appropriate judicial authority of Guyana compel the appearances of the [witnesses] to give evidence at a deposition in Guyana,” the letter said. The names of the witnesses were redacted from the court document so as to protect their identities.

The court requested that the witnesses be examined in Guyana orally and under oath by counsel for Khan and by counsel for the prosecution. A request was also made for the latter to be permitted to participate in the depositions from the US via video-conferencing. The depositions would be taken in accordance with Guyana’s laws and they would be “contemporaneously recorded at the arrangement and expense of defendant Khan for the purpose of creating a verbatim transcript, and may be videotaped at the arrangement and expense of defendant Khan if the rules permit.

“It is requested that the depositions take place as promptly as the parties may arrange, at a time and place in Georgetown, Guyana, to be arranged by the parties,” the letter said.

“Each witness who is required to attend and be examined shall be paid by defendant Khan such fees and expenses as are allowed for the attendance of a witness in civil proceedings before the judicial authorities of Guyana. Any cost incurred by the judicial authorities of Guyana in executing this request shall be subject to reimbursement by defendant Khan.”

The judge also offered to “entertain any requests for similar judicial assistance which the appropriate authority of Guyana may from time to time find it appropriate to make.”

The Guyana Government has indicated its interest in gathering information from the US on claims that Khan was close to a group which may be responsible for around 200 killings.

Khan is facing 18 counts of conspiracy to import cocaine into the US between 2001 and 2006 and heading a criminal enterprise. He is charged with violating the narcotics law of the US.

It is unclear if the request has already been received by the authorities here. Trans-mittal is usually done via the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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