PNP appeals Constitutional Court ruling - Says DPP probing whether PM, party members can be charged

Published: Tuesday | October 8, 2013 Comments 0

 Barbara Gayle, Justice Coordinator

Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and other People's National Party (PNP) members are asking the Court of Appeal to set aside a Constitutional Court ruling because the director of public prosecutions (DPP) is not only seeking to ask them questions on behalf of the Dutch authorities in the Trafigura affair, but is also seeking to see if criminal charges can be brought against them in Jamaica.

Last month, the Constitutional Court ruled that there was no proven breach of their constitutional rights to testify on oath in open court in the Trafigura case.

Dutch authorities want to question Simpson Miller, party Chairman Robert Pickersgill, and senior members Colin Campbell and Phillip Paulwell and businessman Norton Hinds about a $31-million donation to the party by Dutch company Trafigura Beheer. It is illegal for Dutch companies to make donations to political parties.

The Dutch authorities want them to answer truthfully as to how the donations were made. The donation was made in 2006 when Trafigura had an oil-lifting contract with the PNP administration which had formed the Government.

No hearing date yet

Attorney-at-law Bert Samuels told The Gleaner yesterday that the appeal was filed last Friday. A date has not yet been set for the hearing in the Court of Appeal.

The appellants are contending in the several grounds of appeal filed that the Constitutional Court erred in its ruling and are asking the Court of Appeal to set it aside.

The Constitutional Court held that "there has been no proven or likely breach of any of the constitutional rights alleged to have been infringed by their being required to attend court and be questioned under oath".

Simpson Miller, and government ministers Pickersgill and Paulwell are asking the Court of Appeal to find that the Constitutional Court erred when it ruled that they were not entitled to diplomatic immunity and were therefore compellable to give evidence.

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