Initial Media Release:

Yesterday was the 87th scheduled hearing of the case. 

The man accused of Sarah’s murder, Richard de Wit, was produced in court for a hearing that lasted less than 10 minutes.  However, no witnesses were present for this hearing.

Sitting Judge Rashid Ali Dar and recently appointed public prosecutor Syed Maqbool Ahmed were present in the court but there was nobody present to represent Richard de Wit, who reportedly said he is looking for a lawyer to defend his case but that he cannot find one to do so. 

This impasse must be broken before any further progress in the trial can be made.  It is understood that the judge has the power to impose a defence counsel and this is one of ten recommendations put to him recently in a letter by Sarah’s parents.  The aim of that letter, simultaneously sent to several other senior legal and political representatives, was to ensure that the trial reaches a safe conclusion as soon as possible.

Pictures by Caters News Agency

Pictures by Caters News Agency

Today, the judge commented that: "Richard has to go through regular medical check-ups to keep up with his health and the jail authorities have to make provisions for it.”

This is an important statement because, as the attached pictures show, his health and appearance have seriously diminished since the trial began.  He has been incarcerated for more than three and a half years in far-from-ideal conditions.  It is widely acknowledged that, during this time, his mental health as well as his physical health, has deteriorated.

The next hearing date has been set for Thursday 16th February 2017.

Additional Media Release:

This Media Release is supplementary to release sent out earlier this afternoon (above).

Updated information has been received from the new Public Prosecutor, Mr Maqbool, regarding the defendant’s mental health.  It has been received via the Foreign and Commonwealth Office in London following contact from their counterparts in Delhi.

The judge has directed the Jail Medical Superintendent to submit Richard De Wit’s Mental Status report before the next hearing.  If he fails to comply, the Jail Medical Superintendent and the Jail Superintendent must be present at the next hearing.

Pictures by Caters News Agency

Pictures by Caters News Agency

Mr Maqbool stated that the case cannot move forward until the defendant’s Mental Status report is submitted to the court or until the Jail and Medical Superintendents explain to the court in person the reason behind not submitting the documents.

In April and May 2016, the court heard a series of arguments about the defendant’s mental state.  At one time, it looked as if he would be declared ‘unfit to stand trial’ but the judge overruled all applications for this because the defendant refused to allow his medical history to be divulged to the court.  The judge had said he would base his decision on those records.  In their absence, he allowed the trial to continue.

This has turned out to be an academic decision insofar as no progress has been made in the trial since that date.

The above does, however, imply that the defendant's mental state will be re-considered.  This may have an important bearing on the future direction and duration of the trial as it is known to have deteriorated since last year.

The next hearing date has been set for Thursday 16th February 2017.

A further communiqué will be issued as appropriate.

Pictures released by kind permission of Caters News Agency