Bladen 12 Case Continues

Bladen 12 Case Continues

The men known as the Bladen 12, who are charged in connection with a 2021 drug plane landing, were back in court today. The case resumed after two adjournments last week, which were granted to allow attorney Lindon Jones an opportunity to speak with four of the defendants. Jones took over the legal counsel of the four men after their original attorney, Oscar Selgado, was convicted and imprisoned in early March for the crime of abetment to commit murder.  Despite the continuation of the trial, currently, there is a voir dire (a trial within a trial) at play. Defense attorney Leroy Banner spoke on the issues being discussed within the voir dire.

Leroy Banner, Attorney: “What happened is the person who recorded the caution statement testified today and it was tendered. So she just marked it to say it is entered into evidence. At this stage it’s just we’re going through the process then she would decide now hearing both sides if it was given freely and voluntarily and then she would admit into evidence formally. So right now it’s just tendered into evidence and if she decides that okay I’m satisfied that it was given freely in compliance with the Evidence Act I would admit it but at this stage no we’re not at that stage as yet. When it comes to a caution statement what is important is not the truth of the caution statement what is important is that when the police got the statement was it given freely ? Was the person beaten? Was he threatened ? Those are the questions so its not per se if it’s the truth we’re not concerned about the truth. We’re concerned if the police followed the Evidence Act. Was there any force ? Was there any inducement ? Was there any promise ? If the Magistrate decides that none of those things happen then she could admit the statement but we’re far from that stage there.”

Reporter: Sir this voir dire is to challenge several of those caution statements. Which of the accused statements are being challenged here ? 

Leroy Banner, Attorney: “For today we focused on Mr.Perez’ statement. He gave two statements, on the 5th and 6th of November 2021. So those are the statements we are being challenged.”

Lead prosecutor Alifa Elrington said she could not get into details on the testimonies but noted that she is getting the information she needs to make her case from the witnesses being called. She also spoke on the many delays that have kept the voir dire from concluding.

Alifa Elrington, Prosecutor: “I don’t usually comment on my witnesses so as far as I’m concerned my case is going the way I need it to go and that’s about what I will say when it comes to my witnesses particularly since one is still on the stand. We had set aside twenty working days originally for this matter to be heard with the hope that we would have been able to flow clearly freely and clearly without much interruption during those twenty working days. There was a period when one defense council was ill, I was ill and that cut down our days. Then there were other things that came in between that cut down the twenty working days. Had we been given that twenty working days and we were able to flow seamlessly within those twenty working days I think we would have been able to complete the voir dire and would have been able to start the substantive matter and move forward. So I think it’s because of the delays that we’ve had and the breakage that we’ve had that it seems much longer than us just continuing and flowing. Any trial is going to take a period of time. This voir dire is of course very important because these statements are important. So there’s always going to be fierce cross examination and for those of you who have been here from inception you would see that a lot of the time that it has taken is as a result of cross examination. So they are going to ask a lot of questions and because cross examination is so wide it allows them to ask a lot of questions and that has, in my opinion, taken the voir dire the amount of time that it has.”

Elrington also said that she has called six witnesses and intends to call four more within the voir dire. The case has been adjourned until Monday, April 8.

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