Appeal advances against bus case trio

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Three former Cabinet ministers who served under the United Progressive Party (UPP) are expected to defend themselves in court next March against the government’s appeal of the dismissal of criminal charges of corruption, fraud, larceny and embezzlement charges against the trio.
The hearing is set to be heard exactly two years after Magistrate Conliffe Clarke tossed the matter and denied the prospection’s request to commit the trio – Harold Lovell, Wilmoth Daniel and Dr. Jacqui Quinn – for trial in the High Court.
In a recent release, the Cabinet said the case is set to be heard later this month, but OBSERVER media investigated and learned that even before the Cabinet statement had been issued on Wednesday night, the new date in March 2019 had already been decided and disclosed to all parties since last Tuesday.
The matter was initially scheduled for hearing on November 26, but the court had not been served with the transcript/Magistrate’s decision hence there would have been insufficient time to prepare for a hearing on that date. So, following a case management conference, it was adjourned until March 2019.
The criminal case has to do with three Daewoo buses worth a total of more than $600,000 that were donated to the former UPP administration by North Korea.
It is alleged that the trio converted the buses for personal use and had them registered at the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board in their names while they were in public office.
The charges were brought by the police in May 2016, but they were dismissed in March 2017.
The magistrate also said that it was difficult to identify a virtual complainant in the larceny case.
The three have always maintained their innocence. In March 2017, a large crowd of supporters waited outside as all available seats in the courtroom went mostly to the UPP’s executive. Cheers erupted when one of the six attorneys – Leon Chaku Symister, delivered the news that the case was thrown out.
At the time, the lawyer stated that the case was politically motivated and the charges brought against the three were a shameful attempt by the Gaston Browne administration to destroy the UPP.
He said that he was not surprised because the evidence did not show any criminal intent by the former members of parliament.
Lovell told OBSERVER media yesterday that he did not want to comment on the matter because it was before the court.

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