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Court rejects DPP's application to strike out PNP appeal in Trafigura matter

Published:Friday | June 3, 2016 | 4:55 PM

The Appeal Court has dismissed an application by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP) to strike out an appeal filed in 2011 by the lawyers for People’s National Party (PNP) President Portia Simpson Miller and other party functionaries.

This will result in a further delay of the questioning of Simpson Miller and others about a controversial $31 million donation to the party by Dutch oil firm Trafigura Beheer.

Earlier this week, the ODPP asked the Appeal Court to strike out the PNP appeal arguing that since it was filed by the PNP lawyers five years ago, they have done nothing to advance the case.

The PNP lawyers had filed the appeal seeking to have the Trafigura matter heard in chambers instead of in open court.

Dutch officials acting through the ODPP under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty want to question Simpson Miller; Party chairman Robert Pickergill; PNP Region Three chairman Phillip Paulwell; and party member Norton Hinds about a $31 million donation to the PNP while the party was in government with an oil-lifting contract with the Dutch firm.

IN PHOTO: PNP President Portia Simpson Miller

This afternoon, in applying for the PNP appeal to be struck out, Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Andrea Martin Swaby said the party lawyers had indicated that they were awaiting the transcript of the original hearing in November 2011 in which Justice Lennox Campbell ruled that the Trafigura matter should be heard in open court.

She said the transcript had been at the Supreme Court since December 2011.

In response, Simpson Miller’s lawyer, KD Knight said his team was not only awaiting the transcript, but also the reasons for Campbell's ruling.

"As  I understand it, the (court) Registrar should inform parties that the transcript is ready and I was never informed," Knight said.

IN PHOTO: PNP attorney KD Knight 

After hearing the matter, the Appeal Court judges led by president Justice Dennis Morrison directed the registrar to fix a date for the hearing of the appeal in consultation with all parties.

In the meantime, all proceedings have been stayed.

READ: Portia will be in court if she gets subpoena, says attorney

This means the matter of the questioning of the PNP officials will not proceed when it’s called up in court next week.

READ: Subpoenas for Simpson Miller and other PNP officials ready, with police