Trial of three former Cabinet ministers to officially begin today

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From left, former finance minister Harold Lovell and two of his former United Progressive Party colleagues, Dr Jacqui Quinn and Wilmoth Daniel (File photo)
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By Latrishka Thomas

[email protected]

After extensive discourse, the three former Cabinet ministers accused of corruption, conversion and embezzlement will finally see the start of their trial.

Former finance minister Harold Lovell and two of his former United Progressive Party (UPP) colleagues, Dr Jacqui Quinn and Wilmoth Daniel, appeared before Justice Colin Williams in the High Court yesterday where the prosecution requested that the matter be postponed to today.

Though the defence was eager to begin the matter, they did not object to the adjournment but rather expressed other concerns.

Having been promised to have their concerns dealt with, the matter was finally set to be heard today.

Representing the politicians are attorneys Dane Hamilton and Justin Simon QC, Anesta Weekes, Charlesworth Tabor and Leon Chaku Symister.

The former ministers are charged in relation to three Daewoo buses worth $218,520 each, which had been donated to the former UPP administration by the government of Korea.

They allegedly converted the buses for their personal use and had them registered at the Antigua and Barbuda Transport Board, in their names, while they were in public office.

Lovell is believed to have committed the offence between April 24 and November 28 2008, while Dr Quinn is said to have committed the crime between April 24 and December 3 2008.

Daniel reportedly converted a bus between April 24 and June 13 2008.

They are all charged separately.

In 2017, Magistrate Conliffe Clarke dismissed the case, citing insufficient evidence.

Director of Public Prosecutions Anthony Armstrong then appealed the magistrate’s decision on an issue of improper application of procedure, and their lawyers fought in the Court of Appeal for the magistrate’s ruling to be upheld.

However, the appellate court agreed with the DPP’s arguments and overturned the decision.

The case was then refiled in 2019.

As a result, the case was brought back before a different magistrate, Chief Magistrate Joanne Walsh, who declared that there was enough prima facie evidence against the three accused and, in June 2020, she committed the matter to the High Court.

The trio pleaded not guilty to the offence on June 14 this year and have since been awaiting trial.

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