davidcomissiongBout of coughing brings Garcia hearing to an early close, after startling revelation from state attorney

A sudden and persistent bout of coughing by the state attorney in the Raul Garcia detention case, brought proceedings to a premature halt in the Number 6 Supreme Court this afternoon.

But this was only after the court heard that Garcia had recently terminated an interview with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, which has been trying to place him accepted by a third country.

Donna Brathwaite was, as she later informed Justice Margaret Reifer, about 15 minutes away from wrapping up her submission to the court on the significance and impact of new evidence which she had successfully entered last Friday, when the coughing began.

Last week Justice Reifer, by consent of both lawyers, accepted three documents as new evidence, but told Brathwaite and attorney for Garcia, David Comissiong to return today and argue the significance and impact the documents would have in her determining the lawfulness of the Cuban drug convict’s continued detention in immigration custody – almost three years after serving his 20-year sentence at Her Majesty’s Prison, at Dodds, St. Philip.

The three documents were a diplomatic note from the Cuban Government which indicated there was no way Garcia would be accepted back into Cuba, a letter to the chief immigration officer from the UN Human Rights Commission for Refugees that seek to repatriate Garcia to a third country and an internal memorandum to the solicitor-general.

This afternoon as Brathwaite’s “outburst” of coughing continued to the point where she could hardly talk, the presiding judge ruled that the legal counsel was therefore indisposed, and she would adjourn the sitting until 2:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Last Friday, Justice Reifer also warned the two attorneys their submissions today had to be brief and that the sitting would not go beyond 45 minutes.

However, that did not happen, considering a series of interventions during Brathwaite’s submission, both by the judge and Comissiong, who either sought clarification in some instances, or objections in others.

The state lawyer argued this afternoon was that Garcia had deliberately terminated a recent interview which the UNHCR was conducting to make arrangements for his repatriation to a third country and therefore, the period of his continued detention was not unreasonable, as suggested by Comissiong in his main submission when the hearing was adjourned just before Christmas last year. (EJ)††††

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