Alleged gang leader and murder accused Rajaee Ali has made headway in his bid to bring a lawsuit over being placed in solitary confinement at the Maximum Security Prison (MSP) in Arouca.
Lawyers representing acting Prisons Commissioner Dennis Pulchan were yesterday forced to concede a preliminary lawsuit over his (Pulchan) alleged refusal to facilitate Ali swearing an affidavit, which is required for his substantive claim over the conditions of his incarceration.
According to Ali’s court filings, obtained by Guardian Media, his lawyer Roshan Tota-Maharaj first started sending requests to Pulchan to facilitate the preparation of the document, last week.
After Pulchan allegedly failed to respond on several occasions and Tota-Maharaj and a Commissioner of Affidavits were refused access, late last week, a pre-action protocol letter was sent to Pulchan on Monday.
The case was filed and came up for virtual hearing before Justice Devindra Rampersad, yesterday morning.
During the brief hearing, Pulchan’s lawyers indicated that he had reached out to Tota-Maharaj and had agreed to facilitate the request once it is received 24 hours before the intended visit.
The preliminary case is expected to come up for hearing before Rampersad next week to discuss possible damages and legal costs. The substantive lawsuit is expected to be filed once the affidavit is completed and sworn.
On July 25, 2015, Ali, his brothers Ishmael and Hamid Ali; Devaughn Cummings, Ricardo Stewart, Earl Richards, Stephan Cummings, Kevin Parkinson, Leston Gonzales; Roget Boucher and Gareth Wiseman were charged with murdering Senior Counsel Dana Seetahal.
Seetahal was shot dead behind the wheel of her SUV while driving along Hamilton Holder Street in Woodbrook on May 4, 2014.
Ali’s wife Stacy Griffith, Deon Peters and David Ector were charged under the Anti-Gang Act for being members of a gang, while Griffith was additionally charged with assisting the gang.
The gang charges were initially dismissed based on the fact that they were laid indictably (heard and determined by a High Court Judge and jury), as opposed to summarily (heard and determined by a magistrate), as required for first-time offenders under the legislation.
The issue resulted in Peters and Ector being freed. Griffith remained before the court as she was slapped with the additional charge that was properly laid. Griffith’s charge for assisting the gang has since been discontinued by the DPP’s Office.
The Court of Appeal eventually reversed Cedeno’s decision and effectively reinstated the charges for being members of a gang.
As Ector was murdered in July 2018, only Peters was rearrested and recharged with the offence.
The reinstated charges are now before another magistrate.
Stephan Cummings was initially charged for the murder but in December 2017, he was made a State witness after he agreed to testify against his former friends. The charge was discontinued against him and he was instead charged with conspiring to murder Seetahal.
In July, the preliminary inquiry into Seetahal’s murder was completed and the group was committed to stand trial.
Ali and four others have also been committed to stand trial for conspiring to murder Slam 100.5 announcer Kevaughn “Lurbz” Savory on November 27, 2014.