Sun | Sep 24, 2017

Court sets January date to hear Trafigura appeal filed by Simpson Miller's attorneys

Published:Friday | June 17, 2016 | 6:19 PM

Livern Barrett, Senior Gleaner Writer

The Court of Appeal has set a date for early next year to hear the appeal filed by attorneys for People's National Party (PNP) President Portia Simpson Miller and other party functionaries that has stalled the Trafigura case.

During a case management conference this morning the Appeal Court ordered that the appeal be heard over two days, starting on January 16.

Authorities in The Netherlands want Simpson Miller, PNP Chairman Robert Pickersgill, the party's region three chairman Philip Paulwell, former general secretary Colin Campbell and businessman Norton Hinds to answer questions under oath about a $31 million donation the party received from Dutch firm Trafigura Beheer while it formed the government in 2006.

However, the case has been adjourned since 2011 when Justice Roy Anderson ruled that they must answer the questions.

Justice Lennox Campbell later ruled that the PNP functionaries must provide the answers in open court.

Campbell's ruling triggered an appeal by lawyers for the five comrades who argued that his decision to have the proceedings held in open court amounts to a breach of their clients' constitutional rights.

Earlier this month the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, which is representing Dutch authorities under the Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty, asked the Appeal Court to strike out the appeal, pointing out that nothing has been done in five years to progress the appeal.

However, the Appeal court would throw out the application and instead stayed the matter to question the PNP functionaries until the appeal is heard.

The PNP lawyers had said that they have not received Campbell's reasons in writing,  for insisting that the questions be answered in open court.

President of the Appeal Court Justice Dennis Morrison says while he appreciates the point raised by the lawyers, the court would not allow itself to be held hostage by the absence of the reasons.