THE sedition charge against Watson Duke, president of the Public Services Association (PSA) has been discontinued.
Chief Magistrate Maria Busby-Earle Caddle, discharged Duke when he reappeared before her at the Port of Spain Magistrates’ Court yesterday. This was in light of the recent judgment of Justice Frank Seepersad who found that Sections 3 and 4 of the Sedition Act was unconstitutional.
Last week Duke’s attorneys made an application for their client to be discharged, however, the application was not immediately granted since the magistrate allowed the prosecution time to respond.
When the matter was recalled yesterday, senior State prosecutor Mauricia Joseph informed the magistrate that subsequent to the application, the State had filed an appeal against Justice Seepersad’s ruling.
Joseph pointed out that the Office of the Attorney General was filed an application for an expedited hearing of the appeal. She pointed out that as part of the appeal, the State was also seeking to have the judge’s order suspended. That hearing is carded to come up for hearing next Monday.
Based on this, Joseph requested that Duke’s matter be adjourned to a date after the hearing of the appeal. She submitted that if Duke were to be discharged and Justice Seepersad’s ruling overturned by the Appeal Court, then the process of prosecuting Duke will have to begin all over again with the charge being reinstated.
But in response to her submissions, the magistrate said as the law currently stands, there was no charge against Duke.
“At this time, January 27, there is an order of the High Court that these sections are unconstitutional. At this stage there is nothing on which for him to be tried,” she said.