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Prosecutor urges court to begin human trafficking trial despite attorney worries for accused

Published:Monday | May 9, 2016 | 5:21 PM

 Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer

A prosecutor today asked a High Court judge to go ahead with the trial of two persons charged with human trafficking even after defence attorneys signalled that they were contemplating pulling out of the case.

The unusual request by Senior Deputy Director of Public Prosecutions Lisa Palmer-Hamilton was made in the Home Circuit Court after attorneys for Rohan Ebanks and Voneisha Greeves sought to have the trial postponed a sixth time.

The two attorneys complained in court that they were not prepared to start the trial because they have not received "proper instructions" from their clients.

Ebanks and Greeves are alleged to have enslaved a teenage girl they brought to Jamaica from Haiti with the promise of a better life.

Palmer-Hamilton, in opposing the request, noted that this was the sixth trial date since the case was first placed on the court list in June 2013.

She revealed that the state has incurred "quite a bit of expense" related to witnesses in the case and was critical of the defendants' delay in meeting their obligations to their attorneys.

"We can only come to one conclusion that the accused are taking advantage of the situation and seeking to abuse the process of the court," Palmer-Hamilton charged.

She also cited examples where cases have gone to trial without accused persons securing legal representation. "Though it is a constitutional right, it is not an absolute right," the prosecutor argued.

After hearing from both sides, Justice Courtney Daye adjourned the case until Wednesday, saying he wanted to give Ebanks and Greeves one more chance to meet with their attorneys.