It has no precedent in law — Defence
The confiscation hearing against the former governor of Delta State, Chief James Ibori, reopened yesterday at a London Crown Court with the British Crown Prosecution lead counsel, Sasha Wass, calling for the re-trial of the entire case.
Wass informed the court that the crown prosecution would be seeking a total re-trial of the case which ended in December when Judge Anthony Pitts asked for more evidence to enable him make an appropriate decision.
Ibori’s lead counsel, Mr. Ivan Krolic QC, however, objected to the prosecution’s request to start the case afresh, saying, “that is the position of the Crown Prosecution which we don’t accept. The function of the court in confiscation hearing is to consider which individual has benefitted from proceeds of crime and to what amount.”
The points of law, Krolic said, “Your Honour has no jurisdiction to abort the earlier proceeding; we say the court should not continue to act where it has no jurisdiction.”
According to him, the dictate of the law was that a case that was due for ruling should be allowed to be concluded whether or not a party in the case had done their duties well or not and since it was not the duty of the court to aid any party in a suit or re-start a case when convinced that one side in a suit has not adduced enough evidence to prove its point.
Wass had last year, said in court that Ibori’s lawyers had confused them by changing their submissions and this “surprised and confused the prosecution,” thereby preventing the prosecution from knowing where the case was leading.
He then prayed the court to adjourn in December to enable it present more evidence to help the court in reaching its decision.
However, Krolic had replied that “the suggestion by the Crown that they were taken by surprise in my respectful submission is nonsense.
“The Crown could not have been surprised… I can’t cross-examine the court, but if the court was surprised, it should not have been.”
Krolic then recounted the rigorous process the entire proceedings had gone through, including the cross-examination of prosecution witness, saying that the court was ready for judgement before the case was suddenly and surprisingly adjourned in December.
Just to prove his case that the Crown prosecution was fully aware of where the case was going as well as the stance of the defence.
“What we say is this, your Honour quite clearly indicated on October 7, last year, that the Crown has in your Honour’s view not done enough because they simply relied on Ibori’s guilty plea and statements and had not provided you with any evidence to prove their case.”
On the fresh application for confiscation proceeding, Krolic faulted it, saying, “the Crown then applied to have the proceedings adjourned as to enable them put more witnesses before the court from Africa and possibly other pieces of evidence that were never mentioned before in court or in any papers and the court granted that application.
“We say that the prosecution having closed its case, should not be entitled to restart the same case.