Some said it wouldn’t happen, especially after his party won convincingly at the June 12th poll, but a date has been set for the attorney general to be tried over passport fraud allegations.
Steadroy “Cutie” Benjamin has fought all the way to the Privy Council – Antigua and Barbuda’s final court of appeal – to keep this from happening, but he couldn’t convince the lords in London to see it his way.
Now, the trial he has fought so hard to avoid has been set to begin on October 1st.
When Benjamin was named attorney general in June, the public erupted with criticism that he ought not to hold the post with such a serious matter pending. Others, however, voiced support for him saying the naysayers were just sour after losing the general election, and others still said, politics aside, the courts needed to be allowed to make a determination of innocence or guilt.
A magistrate set the date this morning after much debate between the prosecution and defence. The end result was an order that the prosecution disclose all evidence to the defence within 21 days.
Magistrate Ngaio Emanuel presided over the hearing after Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh recused herself from the case.
Benjamin is having to defend his actions because he certified a passport application form and photograph for a man who impersonated another.
The courts have already found two people guilty of fraud in the same matter.