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Contention Over New Trial For Money Laundering

By LAMECH JOHNSON

Tribune Staff Reporter

ljohnson@tribunemedia.net

A BULGARIAN’S appeal against a money laundering conviction will resume next month after a legal argument as to whether he should be made to stand trial again arose yesterday.

Kostadin Karchav, 40, who was released from the Department of Correctional Services in October 2016, returned to New Providence for his scheduled substantive hearing yesterday.

Last November, lawyer Stanley Rolle indicated in Karchav’s absence that his client still wished to pursue his appeal against the conviction that had been filed before his October 30 release from prison.

The Court of Appeal said it would adjourn the matter to March 6, 2017 for a status hearing to allow Karchav time to formally write the court indicating that he had retained counsel and wished for the appeal to proceed in his absence.

Failure to do so in that timeframe would result in a dismissal of the appeal.

Karchav appeared in the Claughton House courtroom where Justices Jon Isaacs, Stella Crane-Scott and Roy Jones noted that the Crown respondents appeared to have conceded to the argument raised that the attorney general was wrong in law to move the case to the Supreme Court through a voluntary bill of indictment.

Karchav and his attorney are relying on the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council’s judgment, which upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision to quash the human trafficking convictions of Chavanese Hall.

However, theirs is an issue of contention between the appellant and the Crown as to whether there should be a new trial.

The writ of venire de novo for which the Crown is asking, seeks the appellate court to annul the entire trial process, rather than quash the conviction.

Mr Rolle argued that this was not raised, nor asked for by the Crown in the Hall case, nor at the Privy Council level and that his client was seeking the court not to order a new trial.

Justice Crane-Scott noted that there are case authorities that allow for the order of a writ of venire de novo and she suggested the appellant counsel research and properly respond.

Justice Isaacs said the ruling in Hall’s case was an insurmountable hurdle for the respondent to overcome but agreed with Justice Crane-Scott that existing jurisdictions have allowed for what the crown requests.

The matter was adjourned to July 6 for further hearing.

The jury in Karchav’s trial heard that he gave an oral confession to the crimes prior to a record of interview that was done in the presence of his then lawyer Roger Gomez II.

Sergeant Donovan Martin, of the Central Detective Unit, testified about a conversation with Karchav under caution in the presence of Inspector Deborah Thompson on February 15, 2015.

Karchav allegedly told police he had been in the country since 2014 and was a part of a credit card group in Bulgaria. It was alleged that he told officers he used his time in the Bahamas to obtain information about the models of the automated teller machines he observed. His accomplices replied with information on credit and debit cards, which he uploaded to gift cards he had brought with him when he travelled to the Bahamas.

He allegedly told a police officer that all of the funds seized by police during his arrest were proceeds from the machines, some of which were deposited to his RBC account. He also stated that he purchased a 2005 Suzuki Swift with some of the funds obtained from the bank.

A record of the interview was held following this conversation later on that afternoon.

Karchav, who elected to remain silent to allegations, called Mr Gomez II as a witness when the latter confirmed to his defence attorney that he sat in on a record of interview, but it was not on Sunday, February 15, 2015.

The lawyer was asked if Karchav had made any complaints when he went to see him. Mr Gomez said his then client’s complaint only concerned the cell and food.

The jury returned 7-2 guilty verdicts on money laundering with respect to the funds found in the RBC account and the purchase of the Suzuki Swift.

The jury returned a unanimous not guilty verdict on a count concerning an iPhone 6 cellular phone, of which Justice Turner said the accused was discharged.

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