Trinidadian Lawyer To Represent St Vincent Government In Petitions Case

“Expedition is needed on whether or not an appeal is open to the government in the matter of the Election Petitions.”

This statement was made by Lawyer Anthony Astaphan while speaking on radio on Friday afternoon, following the judgement handed down by Justice Esco L. Henry.

Justice Henry on Friday 30th June ruled that election petitions brought by opposition candidates, Benjamin Exeter and Lauron Baptiste, against Sir. Louis Straker, Hon. Montgomery Daniel, and the Supervisor of Elections, challenging the results of the 2015 general election in two constituencies, will go forward.

Astaphan said in light of this; he has recommended that Senior Counsel from Trinidad, Douglas Mendes, whom he assisted in the Trinidad election petitions, and whose knowledge of election petition laws he deems superb, immediately begin representing the Chief of Elections in St Vincent.

This he said is to make a decision on the question of appeal, and also on the way forward.

Astaphan, however, has indicated that he could not be of further official assistance:

“The fact is from September 2016 to February 2017 I was on medical leave. I have also had a tremendous backlog of work in Dominica and elsewhere, and I cannot go back to the court again and ask for an adjournment”.

Astaphan said in addition to that; he has some personal matters that he has to deal with, thus making it impossible for him to be in St. Vincent.

“So before people start asking if I was fired, I have not being fired. I am still on the cases, but I recommended someone to assist my comrades because I cannot give them the attention that they and the case deserves”.

Astaphan Speaking on the way forward said,

“We have an application before the Court of Appeal to deal with, which is clearly an avenue that could take place before any hearing of the petitions on any merits; Because if we succeed in convincing the Court of Appeal that they ought to reopen the appeal on the question of waiver, I just have a very nasty taste in my mouth on this waiver issue”.

“A judge cannot invite you to object, you turn down his invitation and repose confidence in him, and then your appeal is that these are matters of public interest in which waiver cannot apply, and the Court of Appeal agrees. That is fundamentally wrong”.

Astaphan said that these contradictory findings on the waiver, on the bias, and the validity of the petitions, need to be resolved.

Justice Esco L. Henry on 30th June 2017 delivered judgment in the matter of the application to strike out election petitions brought by candidates Benjamin Exeter and Lauron Baptiste against Sir. Louis Straker, Hon. Montgomery Daniel, and the Supervisor of Elections et al.

The Applicants’ Defendant Sir. Louis Straker contends that the defective recognisances given by the Petitioners are fatal.

The Petitioners are also contending that the motions of the Respondents are an abuse of process.

Justice Henry after reading parts of her judgment held that the motions of the Respondents are an abuse of the process of the court. She further held that the Respondents not adhering to the deadlines, strictly renders their motions a failure.

She further held that the Recognisances were not deficient, but insufficient and ruled that the Petitioners deposit into Court security for costs. As such, she did not strike out the Petitions.

By Ernesto Cooke

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