7 witnesses in one day

The coun­try’s first judge alone tri­al be­gan on Wednes­day in the San Fer­nan­do Sec­ond Crim­i­nal Court with sev­en wit­ness­es com­plet­ing their ev­i­dence in one day.

Kwasi Forde is be­ing tried by Jus­tice Gillian Lucky for the mur­der of Ger­ard Bo­cas which oc­curred dur­ing a rob­bery at a bar in San Fer­nan­do 14 years ago.

Three wit­ness­es tes­ti­fied be­fore the judge while the state­ments and ex­hibits of the oth­ers were ten­dered in­to ev­i­dence with­out ob­jec­tion from the de­fence.

The pace of the tri­al, when com­pared to a tri­al by ju­ry, went faster with on­ly one ten-minute. The tri­al was ad­journed at 12.45 pm to re­sume on Thurs­day.

Forde first in­di­cat­ed his in­ter­est in hav­ing a ju­ry-less tri­al on Mon­day, just three days af­ter the tri­al by judge alone law came in­to ef­fect.

When he re­turned to court yes­ter­day, Lucky went through the of­fi­cial pro­ce­dure be­fore ask­ing de­fence at­tor­ney Lar­ry Williams to in­di­cate Forde's de­ci­sion.

The court mar­shal served Forde the of­fi­cial no­tice that he has 60 days be­fore his tri­al date to in­di­cate whether he wants a judge-alone tri­al.

Copies of the doc­u­ment were giv­en to the de­fence, pros­e­cu­tion and the judge. The sec­ond step was for the de­fence to make a for­mal ap­pli­ca­tion.

Williams in­di­cat­ed that his in­struct­ing at­tor­ney Michelle Ali got full in­struc­tions from the ac­cused who wants a judge-alone tri­al.

Williams re­quest­ed that the tri­al com­mence im­me­di­ate­ly rather than in 60 days which was the of­fi­cial tri­al date.

In­di­cat­ing that the pros­e­cu­tion was ready to pro­ceed, Jones did not ob­ject.

The judge said, “This court rul­ing in the in­ter­est of jus­tice, fair­ness be­ing the cor­ner­stone of the ad­min­is­tra­tion of jus­tice, this court will then or­der that the ac­cused be tried by judge alone.”

Be­fore send­ing away the pool of po­ten­tial ju­rors, the judge asked Forde whether he was com­fort­able and that his choice was “vol­un­tary, with­out any pres­sure.”

He replied, “Yes, judge.” Forde, al­so known as Cur­tis, was ar­raigned and put in charge of the judge. He plead­ed not guilty.

Jones in­di­cat­ed that the charge was felony mur­der.

In his open­ing ad­dress to the judge, State pros­e­cu­tor Trevor Jones said the in­ci­dent took place on Oc­to­ber 10, 2005, at Cov­er Girls Restau­rant and Bar at Carib Street.

Four men, armed with guns, en­tered the bar around 10 pm and or­dered the pa­trons to lie on the ground. Sev­er­al pa­trons were robbed and shot. Bo­cas died short­ly af­ter he was shot.

The for­mal ev­i­dence of the dis­trict med­ical of­fi­cer Dr Oumat­tee Ar­joon-Singh, po­lice pho­tog­ra­ph­er Voster Year­wood, po­lice draughts­man Gre­go­ry Hood and Bo­cas' wife, were read and ten­dered in­to ev­i­dence.

Jones then called bar own­er, Nar­ine Nanans­ingh who re­called he was sit­ting on a ta­ble with Bo­cas, his close friend, watch­ing tele­vi­sion.

Nanans­ingh and he left Bo­cas by the ta­ble and went by the cash reg­is­ter for mon­ey to pay his work­ers.

As he opened the cash reg­is­ter, he said a wait­ress shout­ed ‘hold up.’

Nanans­ingh said he saw two men with guns as he went in­to a near­by room. He tes­ti­fied that he heard gun­shots as he called the po­lice.

Nanans­ingh re­called see­ing Bo­cas ly­ing on the ground and gasp­ing for breath. He said he did not get a clear view of the as­sailants' faces.

Un­der cross-ex­am­i­na­tion, Nanans­ingh said he can­not re­call see­ing Forde at his bar at any time. Jones called two more wit­ness­es — Damien Gopauls­ingh and Paul An­tho­ny — who were pa­trons at the bar.

The tri­al con­tin­ues to­day.

Reporter: Sascha Wilson

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