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Trinidad Judge Orders Release of Antiguan Man

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Thursday 14th March, 2019-A High Court judge in Trinidad has ordered the im­me­di­ate re­lease of a man from An­tigua and Bar­bu­da whose de­por­ta­tion was de­layed for over five months as he is await­ing tri­al for a se­ries of fraud and lar­ce­ny charges.

De­liv­er­ing a 16-page judg­ment at the Hall of Jus­tice in Port-of-Spain, yes­ter­day af­ter­noon, Jus­tice Vasheist Kokaram ruled that im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers did not have the pow­er to de­lay Troy Thomas’ de­por­ta­tion be­cause he had pend­ing crim­i­nal mat­ters.

“If in­deed it was ev­i­dent to the au­thor­i­ties that his de­por­ta­tion could not be ef­fect­ed with­in a rea­son­able pe­ri­od of time as a re­sult of his pend­ing crim­i­nal charges then he ought to have been re­leased,” Kokaram said.

Ac­cord­ing to the ev­i­dence in the case, Thomas was first de­tained by im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials and or­dered to be de­port­ed on March 2, 2007.

With his ap­peal against the de­ci­sion pend­ing, Thomas was re­leased on a se­ries of su­per­vi­sion or­ders from the Im­mi­gra­tion Di­vi­sion.

While on the or­ders, Thomas al­leged­ly com­mit­ted the fraud and lar­ce­ny of­fences and was re­leased on bail pend­ing the tri­als of the cas­es.

According to the Trinidad Guardian, In Oc­to­ber last year, he was again de­tained by Im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials, who sought to im­me­di­ate­ly en­force the pre­vi­ous­ly stayed or­der, based on his re­peat­ed non-com­pli­ance.

How­ev­er, they opt­ed to not push through the de­por­ta­tion un­til it re­ceived ad­vice from the Of­fice of the Di­rec­tor of Pub­lic Pros­e­cu­tions (DPP) on the crim­i­nal charges.

In his claim, Thomas’ lawyer Ger­ald Ramdeen con­tend­ed that Thomas should not have been de­tained based on the crim­i­nal charges. He al­so con­tend­ed that he (Thomas) should have been de­port­ed by the Im­mi­gra­tion Di­vi­sion and then ex­tra­dit­ed by the DPP’s Of­fice to face tri­al.

In his judg­ment, Kokaram agreed with Ramdeen’s analy­sis of what should have been done.

While Kokaram ruled that the di­vi­sion was jus­ti­fied in con­sid­er­ing the charges and the fact that Thomas had breached pre­vi­ous su­per­vi­sion or­ders, it had very lit­tle choice

As part of the judg­ment, Kokaram gave the Im­mi­gra­tion Di­vi­sion ad­vice on han­dling such cas­es in the fu­ture.

He not­ed that de­por­ta­tion or­ders may on­ly be de­layed for a rea­son­able time in cir­cum­stances where the di­vi­sion is hav­ing is­sues in ex­e­cut­ing the or­der due to ad­min­is­tra­tive is­sues.

How­ev­er, Kokaram not­ed that there was leg­is­la­tion al­ready in place for de­por­ta­tion to be de­layed in cir­cum­stances when a per­son has to serve a prison sen­tence be­fore.

The ad­vice was ac­cept­ed by Chief Im­mi­gra­tion Of­fi­cer Char­maine Gand­hi-An­drews, who was present in court along with sev­er­al se­nior im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cers.

The de­ci­sion was not a to­tal de­feat for im­mi­gra­tion of­fi­cials are they are still per­mit­ted to re-de­tain Thomas, pro­vid­ed that they in­tend to de­port him with­in a rea­son­able time.

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