Sunday 26 January, 2020

Two-week wait for Trafigura five to know about Privy Council option

Former Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller

Former Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller

Former Prime Minister, Portia Simpson Miller, and four other senior members of the Opposition People’s National Party (PNP) will have to wait another two weeks before knowing whether they will have to give testimony in open court in the Trafigura Baheer matter.

This, as the Court of Appeal will decide on February 23 whether it will allow the ‘Trafigura Five’ to take their appeal to the United Kingdom-based Privy Council.

The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), Paula Llewelyn, who is representing the Dutch authorities in the matter, said Simpson Miller et al should be compelled to testify in open court.

The Appeals Court reserved judgment in the matter after hearing arguments from the attorneys representing Simpson Miller; former PNP General Secretary, Colin Campbell; former party Chairman, Robert Pickersgill; Phillip Paulwell; and businessman Norton Hinds.

Dutch investigators are probing the donation of $31 million to the PNP in 2006, when the party formed the Government. The donation was made in the run-up to the General Elections in 2007, by Dutch oil company, Trafigura Baheer. It is illegal for Dutch companies to make political campaign donations, and the move also came the time when the Jamaican Government had an oil lifting contract with the Dutch company.

The attorneys for the five had appealed a ruling by Supreme Court Judge Lennox Campbell that the dispositions should be given in open court.

The lawyers for the appellants, in seeking leave to take the matter to the Privy Council, argued that the Appeal Court incorrectly interpreted Section 16 of the Constitution, which gives protection to the five not to be compelled to testify publicly.

However, DPP Llewelyn urged the court to reject the application on the ground that the constitutionality of the ruling of Justice Campbell had been challenged before the Constitutional Court, which rejected the arguments.

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