This week, the Court of Appeal of Trinidad and Tobago will rehear the case of Michael Maharaj and nine others, who are challenging their conviction for a murder that took place 20 years ago.
The ten men were initially sentenced to hang but their death sentences were later commuted to life imprisonment.
The main evidence against the appellants at trial was the testimony of one witness, who alleged to have known about a conspiracy to kidnap the victim for a ransom. The witness, who was once the most wanted man in Trinidad, has now admitted falsifying his story and has retracted his testimony.
In light of this, the President took the unusual step of referring the matter back to the Court of Appeal. We are helping Michael Maharaj and Damian Ramiah, two of the appellants, to appeal their case, arguing that they should not have been convicted on the basis of an unreliable witness. If the Court of Appeal rules in their favour, all men could have their convictions quashed and be released from prison.
Co-executive Director, Parvais Jabbar and Legal Director, Amanda Clift-Matthews are in Trinidad and Tobago for the hearing, along with UK counsel Edward Fitzgerald QC of Doughty Street Chambers. We are working with the local legal team Jagdeo Singh and Karina Singh, of Fortis Chambers.
Photo credit: Klaas Vermaas (Flickr, Creative Commons), https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nd/2.0/