Jury selected in challenging immigration fraud case

| 18/01/2019 | 1 Comment

Cayman News Service(CNS): A group of seven men and women, along with three alternate jurors, have now been selected to serve in an anti-corruption case involving a number of immigration officers and clients, who are accused of conspiring to circumvent the English tests administered to people wanting to enter Cayman for work. The prosecution is expected to open its case on Friday against seven defendants from a group of a dozen people facing various charges all relating to the same conspiracy.

The officers are accused of taking unlawful payments of several hundred dollars each time to ensure that several native Spanish speakers seeking work permits passed the test regardless of their English proficiency. The clients who are now defendants are accused of bribery.

The case has caused considerable challenges for the courts because of the number of defendants involved, the original complexity of the charges brought by prosecutors on behalf of the anti-corruption investigators and the number of witnesses.

During his address to the opening of the Grand Court Wednesday, Chief Justice Anthony Smellie singled out the case to illustrate the difficulties the criminal division of the Grand Court continues to experience because of a lack of lawyers and court space. He explained that Justice St John-Stevens, who is presiding over this case, had directed split trials with two indictments, otherwise it would have seen half of the Cayman Islands’ entire criminal defense bar tied up for six weeks.

As it stands, six of the regular legal aid lawyers are now defending the seven clients involved in the first trial, in which the indictment and charges against the defendants have been narrowed and witnesses reduced.

But even with a revised and less complex indictment and fewer live witnesses, it still took all of Wednesday afternoon and most of Thursday to swear seven men and women for the jury to hear the case, as well as another three back-up jurors who will be required to hear the crown’s opening in the trial and be ready to step into a formal juror’s seat should any of them find they cannot serve.

It is quite common in local criminal cases, even when there is just one local defendant, that many members of the jury pool will be connected in some way to that defendant, the witnesses, the police or prosecutors, making the selection process sometimes very difficult.

In this case, with twelve original defendants and a long list of witnesses for a trial, which is expected to last six weeks, securing a jury from the current pool was particularly challenging. Nevertheless, the task was accomplished by Thursday afternoon, paving the way for the acting director of public prosecutions to open the case Friday.

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Category: Courts, Crime

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  1. Say it like it is says:

    This case underlines the need to have some cases heard by a judge alone and not a jury. It has always been a problem here to be certain that jury members are not in some way connected to defendants or influenced by them.

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