Former Turks and Caicos ministers back in court this week

By Caribbean News Now contributor

PROVIDENCIALES, Turks and Caicos Islands — Four former ministers, along with a number of their relatives and other defendants are due to appear in court in the Turks and Caicos Islands this week for another plea and directions hearing in relation to various criminal charges including bribery, fraud and money laundering.

Floyd Hall, former deputy premier and finance minister in the 2003 -2009 Progressive National Party (PNP) administration, is due to appear, along with his wife, Lisa Hall, and his brother, Quinton Hall.

Also listed to appear is Lillian Boyce, a former PNP minister of education and health and the wife of Hayden Boyce, editor-publisher of the TCI Sun newspaper. Also charged is her brother, Earlson Robinson.

Joining them are two other former PNP ministers: Jeffrey Hall, former minister of works, and McAllister ‘Piper’ Hanchell, former minister of land.

Other defendants due to appear in Providenciales before Supreme Court Judge Paul Harrison, who was specifically appointed to hear these cases, are:

• Melbourne Wilson, a local attorney at law who represented Jeffrey Hall at the 2009 Commission of Inquiry, when it was revealed that he (Wilson) had allegedly benefited to the tune of $800,000 from the proceeds of a land flip reportedly orchestrated by his client.

• Thomas Chalmers ‘Chal’ Misick, also an attorney and brother of disgraced former premier Michael Misick.

• Clayton Greene, another local attorney and former Speaker of the House from 2003 to 2009. Greene later became the leader of the PNP.

• Richard Padgett, a British developer, who in May pleaded guilty to charges of bribery and conspiracy to pervert the course of public justice by agreeing to present false or forged documents to a Commission of Inquiry. His case was adjourned to September 16 for mention as to the appropriate date of sentence.

• Varet Jak Civre the principal of the Seven Stars development, who in July last year concluded an agreement to pay $5 million dollars to the Civil Recovery Authority, as a result of which Attorney General Huw Shepheard agreed to discontinue the criminal proceedings against Civre. He was charged with paying bribes to Floyd Hall to obtain a building code variance permitting his Seven Stars development to be built seven storeys high. It is not clear as to why Civre is on the latest list unless it is for the formal entering of a nolle prosequi on behalf of the attorney general, whereupon the court has already ordered he be discharged from the proceedings.

In April, special prosecutor Helen Garlick explained that, before a trial date can be fixed there are several preliminary matters that need to be decided by the trial judge in plea and directions hearings.

“The prosecution has been ready to conduct a hearing since July 2012 and all the necessary evidence and written submissions have been served on the accused,” she added.

According to Garlick, the reason for the continued delay is that the majority of the accused have applied for and been granted legal aid but have rejected the rates fixed by the registrar and challenged that decision by applying for judicial review.

“The application for judicial review was rejected after a hearing on 8th November 2012. An appeal was also rejected unanimously by the Court of Appeal on 24th January 2013,” she noted.

The defendants concerned have reportedly applied for leave to appeal to the Privy Council in London and it could therefore be some months before the issue is finally resolved.

“The accused have the right to exhaust all legal avenues of appeal but there should be no misunderstanding that however long it may take, the law must take its course and there will be a trial,” Garlick emphasised.

At the same time, Garlick said that former Turks and Caicos Islands premier Michael Misick will stand trial if he is returned to the TCI. Misick is currently still held in custody in Brazil pending extradition, following his arrest there last December.

“However, there should also be no misunderstanding first that, however long it may take, if Michael Misick is returned to the TCI, he will stand trial and second that in the meantime the trial of his co-accused will continue,” she said.

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