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Trafigura judgment to be handed down April 28

Published:Thursday | January 19, 2017 | 1:47 PM

The Appeal Court is to hand down its judgment in the Trafigura matter on April 28.

The court has been hearing a legal challenge brought by People's National Party (PNP) President Portia Simpson Miller and other party functionaries against the decision of Justice Lennox Campbell for them to answer in open court to questions about a $31 million dollar donation to party by the Dutch firm Trafigura Beheer.

For years, authorities in The Netherlands have been attempting to get answers from Simpson Miller, PNP chairman Robert Pickersgill, Phillip Paulwell, former general secretary Colin Campbell and businessman Norton Hinds about the donation the party received a decade ago.

The DPP's Office, which is representing The Netherlands under the Mutual Assistance Criminal Matters Act, tried unsuccessfully to have the five interviewed in private before taking the matter to the Supreme Court and in November 2011 Justice Campbell ordered that they should provide statements to Dutch authorities in open court.

Deputy Director of Public Prosecution Andrea Martin Swaby says the principle of open justice is one of the foundations of Jamaica's judicial process that is enshrined in the Constitution.

However, in his response today, Simpson Miller's lead attorney K.D. Knight argued that Campbell's use of the word defendant to describe the five PNP officials showed that he mischaracterised the proceedings before him.

Knight said it was this mischaracterisation that propelled the retired judge to make what he described an erroneous order.

The veteran attorney also insisted that proceedings under the Mutual Assistance Criminal Matters Act are subject to Jamaican laws.

In addition, he argued that cooperation with the designated central authority under the legislation  is completely voluntary as under Jamaican law, no judge or prosecutor can compel an individual to give a statement.