Prison superintendent to explain late arrivals at court

By LAMECH JOHNSON Tribune Staff Reporter ljohnson@tribunemedia.net SUPERINTENDENT of Prisons Dr Elliston Rahming will appear before three judges in two weeks to verify if his agency is at fault for the late arrival of prisoners to court. In yesterday's appellate court session, a senior police officer in charge of receiving inmates for court said it was not the police's official duty to transport prisoners to court, as they only offer assistance to the prison. Justice Anita Allen made an order for the prison chief to be summoned on March 28. The Court of Appeal begins at 10am and prides itself on being punctual. However, there have been occasions where court started well afterwards, yesterday being a prime example. The appellate court president voiced her displeasure at the tardiness. Her colleagues Justices Christopher Blackman and Stanley John agreed. Justice Allen said: "This is happening too frequently. We have to summon the Superintendent of the prison to find out what is going on. "This is the second or third occasion we've had this happen in some two weeks." Jerone Roberts, one of three attorneys waiting for his client to arrive, gave the court additional insight into the matter. He said a number of defence attorneys have formed a "loose association" and "met on at least two occasions with the Superintendent who said it is his responsibility to have the prisoners ready in the prison square to be transported." Mr Roberts said, based on the discussions with Dr Rahming, it is reportedly the "responsibility of the Commissioner of Police to have them transported to court." Justice Allen then suggested: "Perhaps it might be best to summon both." Roberts agreed and said it appeared to be a situation where persons were placing blame, but "nobody is in charge to take care of the situation." Mr Roberts admitted he has seen prisoners in the square sitting around the wall waiting to be brought to Bank Lane. The court president stood the court down for a 15-minute break and ordered Franklyn Williams, deputy director of public prosecutions, to discover the nature of yesterday's dilemma. The prisoners arrived shortly after. Assistant Supt Cleophas Cooper, officer in charge of the Central Police Station, told the court the five inmates with appeals had to be walked from Bank Lane to the Charlotte Street, Claughton House, courtroom. In his explanation to Justice Blackman, ASP Cooper said the prison bus never arrived until after 10am. "Because of the accident we had, we're now limited with transportation." He also said the prisoners cannot be taken directly to court without being checked in first at Bank Lane. "It ensures persons on the list are checked out to appear for court," he added. Justice Allen, based on the explanation, suggested the police were to blame. ASP Cooper disagreed and said it was not the police's official duty to transport prisoners to court, as they only offer assistance to the prison. "Once they get here, then we take over and are responsible for getting them back." Justice Blackman said the prison chief needed to be summoned "in order to improve on the situation." The appellate court president made the summoning order and Mr Roberts suggested for the Commissioner of Police to be on the order as well. Justice Allen however said: "We'll see what transpires on the 28th."


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