Fri | Jan 19, 2018

DPP rejects PNP's claims in Trafigura hearing

Published:Wednesday | January 18, 2017 | 4:21 PM

The Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has declared that the Trafigura case was never intended to be a statement-taking exercise.

The assertion came in the Appeal Court as Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions Andrea Martin Swaby responded to legal arguments presented yesterday by lawyers for People's National Party President Portia Simpson Miller and other party functionaries.

The Office of the DPP is the designated central authority under the Mutual Assistance Criminal Matters Act and is representing authorities in The Netherlands in their investigations into a $31 million donation to the PNP by the Dutch firm Trafigura Beheer.

In November 2011, then High Court judge Justice Lennox Campbell ruled that Simpson Miller, PNP chairman Robert Pickersgill, regional chairman Phillip Paulwell, general secretary Colin Campbell and businessman Norton Hinds must answer questions in open court about the donation.

Yesterday, Simpson Miller's lead attorney K.D. Knight argued that under Jamaican law as well as the Mutual Assistance Criminal Matters Act, the five could not be compelled to give witness statements.

He also noted that the taking of a witness statement, in the Jamaican jurisdiction, is done in private by a police officer and not a judge.

However, in her response today, Martin Swaby insisted that Campbell was conducting a hearing.

She says in her perusal of the Mutual Assistance Criminal Matters Act she found no provision for the taking of a witness statement.

Instead the Assistant Director of Public Prosecutions argued that the legislation speaks to the engagement of the judicial process, which according to some law dictionaries, are regarded as court proceedings.