Court proceedings for the two men, facing criminal charges in the US arising out of the $1.6billion Piarco Airport deal have reached the 11th hour, Justice Vashiest Kokaram said yesterday in the San Fernando High Court.
Galbaransingh and Ferguson spent Tuesday night at the Maximum Security Prison in Arouca and yesterday at 9 am, their attorneys petitioned the High Court for bail to be granted. Attorneys are also seeking a conservatory order to stop the businessmen’s extradition to the US. Kokaram granted the order that they not be extradited to the US until a constitutional motion they have pending, is determined in the High Court. However, the judge ordered that bail not be granted while the motion is being heard.
The two businessmen were arrested at Point Lisas at about 5.30 pm on Tuesday, after their bail to cover charges for which they are wanted in Florida for alleged bid rigging and corruption, had expired after last week Monday’s Privy Council decision where Law Lords refused the two an application to block the extradition. Yesterday, Fyard Hosein SC moved the court to hear an oral application for bail before Kokaram, on the basis of the pending constitutional motion which the businessmen filed in 2008 challenging the constitutionality of the extradition on the ground that it infringes their rights under Sections 4 and 5.
Galbaransingh’s wife Cheryl, sat in court while Hosein submitted that the Bail Act allows bail to a person facing extradition. He submitted five grounds in his petition for bail. It was revealed in court yesterday that the seven days granted by Attorney General Anand Ramlogan for attorneys to make representation on the businessmen’s behalf against extradition ends today, but had been extended to next Monday.
The AG retained Kelvin Ramkissoon and Michael Quamina, to challenge yesterday’s bail application and the attorneys told Kokaram that the 11th hour had arrived “between their extradition and their criminal trial”. Ramkissoon replied that a real possibility of a flight risk exists and while Galbaransingh and Ferguson have observed bail conditions in the past, “the fact is that the end is near, and may make the claimants reconsider”.
Kokaram rose for the lunch break and returned with an oral decision, stating that the threshold to be met for bail, had been raised by last week’s Privy Counsel ruling. Saying he had to “balance the scales of public justice evenly”, Justice Kokaram said he was denying the two men bail. After the ruling, Hosein requested the judge to stay his decision and grant him leave to appeal the decision before the Court of Appeal today. This was granted and the attorney is expected to do so this morning.