Judiciary silent on Naipaul-Coolman file

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

MURDERED: Businesswoman Vindra Naipaul-Coolman who was kidnapped and murdered. Her body has never been found. FILE PHOTO

THE Judiciary says it will not comment or respond to media queries on the malicious prosecution case of the nine men acquitted of the charge of murdering businesswoman Vindra Naipaul-Coolman.

This was the response to questions from Newsday directed to newly-appointed High Court judge Karen Reid-Ballantyne, on her role in the case, and whether she was the “high-ranking” judicial officer referred to in a newspaper report.

Reid-Ballantyne represented the State at the assessment stage before a High Court Master in November 2021, after the men successfully obtained judgement in default, nine months earlier.

On Wednesday, the Express newspaper alleged it was a high-ranking judicial officer who handed the previously “missing” case file to acting Solicitor General Karleen Seenath.

Newsday also sought a response from the Judiciary to questions Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar raised in a letter to the Chief Justice on Reid-Ballantyne’s role in the case.

On Wednesday, the Judiciary said it will not comment on the matter while an investigation initiated by the Government is ongoing.

“The State has announced an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the case of Shervon Peters &Ors v The Attorney General and has appointed investigators. The Judiciary will not comment nor respond to media queries while the investigation is on-going.”

On February 1, Attorney General Reginald Armour, SC, said the malicious prosecution claim, filed by the men in May 2020, went missing the day after it was served on the State on June 22, 2020.

He has appointed retired Appeal Court judge Stanley John to investigate the disappearance of the file, which led to the nine men being awarded over $20 million in compensation.

Court records show the State did not put in an appearance in the High Court on the malicious-prosecution claim.

On Monday night, the Government said the file had been found. Also on Monday night, at a UNC meeting, Opposition Leader Kamla Persad-Bissessar said she had written to Chief Justice Ivor Archie calling for the Judiciary to clear the air and the name of Justice Reid-Ballantyne.