The State of India -v- Richard de Wit

Media Release - Released by Vic Groves, Wednesday 3rd May 2017, Guernsey - for Immediate Use

This Media Release relates to hearing number 93 in the above trial which took place today in the District Court, Srinagar.

First Evidence Heard Since 29th September 2015.

Prosecutors Determine to Expedite Proceedings:
Today’s hearing was the first in which evidence was heard since 29th September 2015 – a period of more than nineteen months during which time 37 hearings were scheduled, none of which heard evidence or progressed the case in any way.

The witness heard today was Dr Manzoor-ul-Haq, a member of the medical team that conducted the post mortem on Sarah. He confirmed what was already known – that she had suffered as many as 45 stab wounds. 

A detailed copy of the doctors’ report was submitted to the court. The police added to that report that Richard de Wit had purchased a knife identical to the one allegedly used in the attack just two days beforehand.

Despite all efforts to secure legal representation for the defendant, it appears that none was present in court today.  Surprisingly, therefore, and in a departure from previous protocol, the defendant was granted the court’s permission to cross-examine the witness himself.

He challenged the autopsy report and reiterated that ‘he was being framed by the local police’.  He drew sighs of anguish from the crowded courtroom when he asked about specific details of the autopsy.

Afterwards the Prosecutor, Mr Syed Maqbool, gave his reaction to the day’s proceedings:

“It was a bit of a joke, really.  I mean we know that de Wit is trying to slow the whole hearing down. First, he refused to have a lawyer, now he is cross-examining witnesses. Today was the beginning of producing witnesses. More witnesses will be produced before the court in the next hearing and we want to expedite this case.”

De Wit asked the court to release money that was ‘confiscated’ from his possession at the time of his arrest shouting “I need the money back”.  He also repeated his earlier demand to move the hearing to a higher court. The demand was rejected. Finally, he requested bail, which was again immediately denied.

There were clear signs that Richard de Wit’s physical and mental health have deteriorated.

Significance of Today’s Hearing:
The 37 lost days in court were caused by:

Defendant without legal representation (17)
Defendant’s Mental Health (7)
Civil Unrest (10)
Witnesses did not show up (2)
Judge unavailable (1)

Disruption due to civil unrest is unavoidable but the other reasons given are unjustifiable. Richard de Wit has now had legal counsel imposed on him. Two lawyers have been identified as:

Advocate Mahira Bhat
Advocate Mushtaq Ahmad Dar as amicus curiae (an impartial adviser)

Despite their non-appearance in court today, Richard de Wit will not be able to summarily dismiss these legal representatives and steady progress in the trial should now be possible. There are expectations, however, that his mental health will once again become an issue which could have a severely detrimental effect on the trial.

The summary of the case to date is as under:

Date trial commenced: 3rd June 2013
Scheduled Hearings (93)
Productive Hearings (26)
Prosecution Witnesses Listed (46)
Prosecution Witnesses Heard (24)

Legal Teams:
Second Judge (shortly to retire to be replaced by third judge)
Third Prosecutor
Fourth Defence Counsel

The next hearing date has been set for 22nd May 2013.

Authenticity:
The source of the above material is Caters News Agency.  Further information is being sought about today’s hearing and a further media release will be sent out if anything significant is learned.

Images:
Richard de Wit being escorted from court to the prison bus. All imagery provided courtesy of Caters News Agency; any further use must contain an acknowledgement to Caters News Agency.