Panday takes battle to Appeal Court

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad, July 30, 2007 – Basdeo Panday is this week expected to appeal a High Court ruling on his parliamentary seat.

The former prime minister was convicted in April 2006 of an offence of concealing funds from the Integrity Commission and sentenced to jail. In October 2006 his North Couva seat was declared vacant by parliament.

In April 2007 the Appeal Court quashed the conviction citing “apparent bias” on the part of the sitting magistrate after which Panday moved to reclaim his seat. He returned to the House of Representatives for two sittings and in the second tried to re-take his seat by attempting to participate in the debate. Parliament could pass a resolution to reinstate him but opted instead to let the High Court decide.

High Court judge Justice Charmaine Pemberton, Friday, said that notwithstanding the overturning of the verdict the seat was declared vacant and the House of Representatives took no steps to reverse it, so that vacancy must stand.

Opposition leader and daughter of Panday, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, disagreed with the ruling and said an appeal will be filed.