The Court of Appeal has upheld a judge’s decision to stay the prosecution of a former police officer accused of receiving a bribe in 2005.

Delivering a 30-page judgment yesterday , Appellate Judges Alice Yorke-Soo Hon, Prakash Moosai and Ronnie Boodoosingh dismissed the State’s appeal to reinstate the prosecution against Nawaz Ali who was discharged in July 2018.

Ali was initially charged with corruptly soliciting a $4,500 bribe from a man to forbear prosecution of a criminal case against him and two counts for corruptly receiving the bribe, which was allegedly paid in two parts between December 2005 and January 2006.

Ali, formerly assigned to the Cunupia Police Station, was arrested and charged after colleagues conducted a sting operation when the man sought to make the second payment.

At the end of his trial in 2009, the jury acquitted Ali of soliciting the bribe and receiving the first payment but convicted him of receiving the balance.

The following year, the Court of Appeal ordered a retrial as it noted that the charges were inextricably linked and there was no rational explanation for the jury’s verdicts.

When the retrial came up before former High Court Judge and current Appellate Judge Gillian Lucky in 2018, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) attempted to use the evidence related to the two charges Ali was acquitted of to prosecute the remaining charge.

Lucky refused the move and stayed the indictment against Ali.

In their judgment, the appeal panel ruled that Lucky was wrong to exclude the evidence from the first trial.

“In our view, the evidence was legally admissible, but the trial judge exercised her discretion to exclude it. We think that she was plainly wrong since her considerations were misplaced,” the panel stated, as they noted that the trial judge could have allowed the jury to consider the contextual evidence with robust directions.

Despite the panel’s ruling on the admissibility of the evidence, it still ruled that the stay of the indictment was warranted as the framing of the charges by the DPP’s office was fatally flawed.

The panel suggested that the DPP’s office should have laid one charge for receiving the bribe instead of two covering both payments.

“This is not a case in which the question of whether the respondent could receive a fair trial arises since the approach of the DPP in framing the count on the indictment was fatally flawed from the outset,” the panel said.

While the panel noted there is a strong public interest in the prosecution of crimes, it said that the court had to ensure that its processes are used fairly.

“If the court fails in protecting its ability to so function it will inevitably lead to an erosion of public confidence and undoubtedly to oppression and injustice,” the panel said.

Ali was represented by Ravi Rajcoomar and Tiffany Ali while Nigel Pilgrim represented the State.