Duke moves for dismissal of sedition charges

Monday, January 20, 2020 - 19:30

Lawyers rep­re­sent­ing Pub­lic Ser­vices As­so­ci­a­tion (PSA) Pres­i­dent Wat­son Duke have sought to have a sedi­tion charge against him dis­missed. 

Duke’s lawyer John Heath made the ap­pli­ca­tion as his client reap­peared be­fore Chief Mag­is­trate Maria Bus­by-Ear­le-Cad­dle in the Port-of-Spain Mag­is­trate’s Court, yes­ter­day morn­ing. 


Heath re­ferred to a 51-page judge­ment from Jus­tice Frank Seep­er­sad, who struck down seg­ments of the Sedi­tion Act for be­ing un­con­sti­tu­tion­al, last week. 

“No one can be charged with the of­fence as of to­day,” Heath said, as he re­ferred to ex­cerpts of Seep­er­sad’s judge­ment. 

Re­spond­ing to Heath, State pros­e­cu­tor Mauri­cia Joseph not­ed that the judge­ment is be­ing ap­pealed by the Of­fice of the At­tor­ney Gen­er­al, as she asked for an ad­journ­ment for the Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP) to ar­rive at a po­si­tion on the is­sue. 

Heath sug­gest­ed that the pro­posed ap­peal should not be an im­ped­i­ment to mak­ing a de­ci­sion on the ap­pli­ca­tion as Duke could be re­ar­rest­ed and recharged if the State man­ages

He claimed that his client, who is al­so the Mi­nor­i­ty Leader of the To­ba­go House of As­sem­bly (THA), was be­ing prej­u­diced as the pend­ing charge would be in a state of abeyance dur­ing the ap­peals. 

Bus­by-Ear­le-Cad­dle even­tu­al­ly de­ferred her de­ci­sion on the is­sue and ad­journed the case to next Mon­day for ad­di­tion­al sub­mis­sions from the DPP’s Of­fice. 

The sedi­tion charge against Duke re­lates to state­ments on pro­posed lay­offs at TSTT, T&TEC, and WASA, which he made in a press con­fer­ence on No­vem­ber 16, 2018. 

Duke, who al­so has pend­ing charges for rape, in­de­cent as­sault, and dis­or­der­ly con­duct, was placed on $250,000 af­ter be­ing charged in Au­gust, last year. 

The sedi­tion case be­fore Seep­er­sad was brought by for­mer Sanatan Dhar­ma Ma­ha Sab­ha (SDMS) sec­re­tary-gen­er­al Sat­narayan Ma­haraj be­fore his death in No­vem­ber, last year.

In his judge­ment, Seep­er­sad ruled the leg­is­la­tion is not com­pat­i­ble with a sov­er­eign de­mo­c­ra­t­ic state as it lim­its con­sti­tu­tion­al rights to free­dom of thought and ex­pres­sion and free­dom of the press.

Duke is al­so be­ing rep­re­sent­ed by Gilbert Pe­ter­son, SC. 

Reporter: Derek Achong