A police officer currently on remand awaiting trial for murder has lost his lawsuit against Police Commissioner Gary Griffith over a move to terminate his services.
High Court Judge Ricky Rahim ruled that the lawsuit brought by PC Safraz Juman was premature as Griffith only signalled his intention to commence the process but did not terminate him.
Rahim said: “At the highest, it appears that a preliminary decision has been made to determine whether the claimant should be retired or dismissed. That is quite a different matter from a decision having been factually made to dismiss or retire in respect of which there is no evidence in this case.”
This does not automatically mean that Griffith could move to complete the process and terminate Juman, as Rahim chose to advise on how it should be properly and lawfully conducted.
“A court ought not to ignore that which is obvious on the facts presented and is duty-bound to provide guidance in certain circumstances this being one such circumstance,” Rahim said.
In terms of retirement in the public interest, Rahim noted that the T&T Police Service (TTPS)’s disciplinary process would have to be engaged if it was due to an act or omission by Juman as opposed to general incompetence.
Rahim also noted that Juman was to be considered innocent until proven guilty and was on mandatory remand as there is no bail for murder.
“To therefore attempt to retire in the public interest flies in the face of that right and the circumstances of incarceration pending trial for murder,” Rahim said.
Rahim discharged an injunction against the move and ordered Juman to pay Griffith’s legal costs for defending the lawsuit.
In late 2011, Juman, and his colleagues Sgt Khemraj Sahadeo, PCs Renaldo Reviero, Glenn Singh, Roger Nicholas, and Antonio Ramadhan were charged with the murders of Abigal Johnson, Alana Duncan, and Kerron “Fingers” Eccles.
Duncan, 27, of Duncan Village, San Fernando, Eccles, 29, and 20-year-old Johnson, both of St Mary’s Village, Moruga, were killed on July 22, 2011.
On May 1, Juman, who is on remand at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca, received a letter from Griffith indicating that he (Griffith) was contemplating either dismissing him for inefficiency or requiring him to retire based on public interest concerns over his prolonged absence from the TTPS due to his ongoing suspension.
Griffith claimed he was empowered to do so under the Constitution and a series of Police Service Regulations.
Juman was represented by Israel Khan, SC, and Ulric Skerritt, while Rishi Dass led Griffith’s legal team.