Chief justice orders full medical report on witnessTuesday, October 26, 2021
CHIEF Justice Bryan Sykes, the trial judge in the case involving 33 people accused of being members of the St Catherine-based Klansman gang, has ordered a full medical report into the condition of the Crown's main witness on whose account the trial has been adjourned because of an apparent health challenge.
The witness, who first took the stand on September 21 after the trial began on September 20, on several occasions has asked for bathroom breaks or indicated at points that he was feeling unwell, invariably leading to an adjournment.
Yesterday, following his first cross-examination exercise, the witness, who had earlier requested a bathroom break, indicated to Justice Sykes that he wanted to end for the day as he was “cramping up”.
“Find out if this is a recurring problem. I need to know the nature of his medical illness why, at this time in the day, this is happening,” Justice Sykes said.
“I can't sit so long for the day, Sir,” witness number two, who has been testifying from a remote location, offered.
“I'm not speaking to you, Sir,” the chief justice said, cutting him off in mid sentence.
“I need to know if this is something that can be addressed or what. All these things I need to know, so I need a report tomorrow. We are not going to have this constant interruption because it seems as if everyday that we sit for the whole day, at around this time the claim is made that he is suffering from cramps. I need to know now! Is this going to be a recurring issue? And if so, what is the cause of it? Is it a medical issue and how it can be managed? That is what I need to know,” the chief justice said.
The presentation of the “complete, accurate medical report” he said, would be a marker for how the trial will go forward.
“It can't be that every time we sit for the whole day, at quarter to four or ten to four, he makes the claim that he has cramps of whatever it is that he is suffering from — it's not going to work,” Sykes said in adjourning the sitting.
Since the beginning of the trial it has been adjourned four times for varying reasons, including the witness's health challenges, COVID-19 infections among the accused, and technological challenges, making it so that the trial is just in its 14th day.
The case, which includes the largest number of accused ever to be tried together in a single matter, is being handled by 40 attorneys. The accused are being tried under the Criminal Justice (Suppression of Criminal Organisations) (Amendment) Act, commonly called the anti-gang legislation, with several facing additional charges under the Firearms Act for crimes allegedly committed between 2015 and 2019. All 33 accused, who are being tried under an indictment containing 25 counts, when arraigned on September 20 at the start of the trial, pleaded “not guilty” to the charges against them.
The offences for which they are being charged include being part of a criminal organisation, murder, conspiracy to murder, arson, illegal possession of firearm, and illegal possession of ammunition.
— Alicia Dunkley Willis