Former Trinidadian prisoner behind historic “bail for murder” ruling, killed

The former Trinidadian prisoner whose constitutional claim against the state led to the historic bail for murder ruling, was shot and killed at his home late Saturday.

According to police reports Akilli Charles,42, was killed shortly before 10:00 p.m. at his home in Diego Martin.

The police said his body was found on the road by relatives who attempted to resuscitate him but were unsuccessful.

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He was pronounced dead at the scene.

In 2019, Charles was freed by Chief Magistrate Maria Busby-Earle-Caddle after she upheld a no-case submission by his attorneys that the State did not provide sufficient evidence during the course of the preliminary inquiry for Charles to face trial at the High Court.

He and four other men had been charged with the murder of Russell Antoine in 2010.

They were part of a group of prisoners who in 2017, staged a near-riot at the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court after being told that their matters would have to start afresh after the elevation of former chief magistrate Marcia Ayers-Caesar to the High Court Bench.

Following his release from prison, Charles brought a constitutional claim against the State arguing that it was unlawful for those accused of murder to automatically be denied bail.

While his claim was dismissed at the High Court, a three-judge Appeal Court panel comprising Chief Justice Ivor Archie along with Justices of Appeal Mira Dean-Armorer and Malcolm Holdip overturned the High Court ruling.

The justices agreed with Charles’ arguments that Section 5(1) of the Bail Act was unconstitutional and should therefore be struck out.

The Office of the Attorney General appealed the ruling at the Privy Council and on Thursday, five law lords at the apex court upheld the Appeal Court’s ruling making it law for anyone charged with murder to be free to apply to the court for bail.


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