Lifer loses ECHR appeal

| 02/04/2010

Cayman Islands News, Grand Cayman Island headline news, Cayman courts, Cayman right of appeal to the European Court of Human Rights(CNS): A man who is serving a life sentence in HM Prison Northward for the murder of a taxi driver in 2000 has lost his appeal in the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Kurt Ebanks was the first person to pursue a human rights case through the ECHR but the seven judges found that Ebanks had not been denied his right to a fair trial as his appeal claimed. Ebanks had claimed that in 2001 when he was convicted in the Cayman Islands Grand Court that certain procedural irregularities had occurred at his murder trial.

Ebanks first took his claim to the Cayman Island Court of Appeal and then the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council in London.  The conviction was upheld in the Privy Council in August 2006 by a majority of 3 judges to 2; Lord Johan Steyn had dissented and stated that the Court of Appeal had failed to accord Ebanks “due process” and that there had also been “a material irregularity”.  

Ebanks then took his case to Strasburg and the ECHR, Cayman’s highest appeals tribunal in matters of human rights, complaining that his lawyers in the Grand Court trial had failed to properly defend him and act according to his instructions, and then the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal and the Privy Council had both failed to remedy that injustice.

According to details in the Privy Council ruling, Ebanks had claimed during his trial that his lawyers denied him the opportunity to give evidence and failed to cross examine police officers who presented a statement that Ebanks denies making, therefore undermining his right to a fair trial.

Ebanks’ petition against the UK Government was filed by attorney Robin McMillan of the law firm Appleby, while David Perry QC represented the UK Government.

Speaking about the significance of the case, Attorney General Samuel Bulgin QC said that, as far as he was aware, this was the first time the right to appeal to the ECHR had been used by an appellant from the Cayman Islands.

The seven judges found that while Ebanks’ case was admissible to be heard, neither of these rights had been violated and he had received a fair trial.

Ebanks, who was tried and convicted for the murder of Curtis Seymour, was represented by Appleby’s on a pro bono basis. The lawyers said last year that the progress of this petition to the ECHR provided objective confirmation that in relation tohuman rights the Cayman Islands Courts system was now subject to scrutiny and review at the highest international judicial level.

“Moreover, an institutional mechanism was clearly seen to exist which enabled an even higher judicial body to reverse decisions of the Privy Council in relation to Cayman Islands Law.  In other words, those decisions were no longer necessarily the final decisions,” added McMillan, who brought the original submission.

Although Cayman now has a Bill of Rights enshrined in its constitution, enabling people to bring human rights cases before our own Grand Court, it does not come into effect until November 2010. In the interim, the people of the Cayman Island still have the individual right to petition the Strasbourg court whenever the Cayman government or authorities have denied their human rights.

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  1. Mrs.K. Ebanks says:

     Oh, beloved Isle Cayman!  Full of God-fearing, good hearted, Christian people.  They love one another and look out for their fellow Caymanian.  Don’t believe me?  Take a look at all the previous comments!

    It is obvious that the group of people that have previously commented can be divided into 3 categories:  Ignorant, Illiterate, "Christians" and I intentionally place the word CHRISTIAN in quotation marks.

    I advise all of you to take the time to read the case of Mr. Kurt Ebanks (it’s quite lengthy and is filled with legal terminology and 3-4 syllable words, so please take your time).  I advise all of you to take a look at the filth on your hands before you point them at Mr. Ebanks to condemn him.  Wait, what am I saying?  The Justice system is perfect, and has never wrongfully convicted an innocent man! Shame on me….

    For the Anonymous person who made the comment about manipulating the Justice System, my dear sir/madam, utilising appeals is a right… not manipulation.

    A life was lost, however it saddens and disgusts me that such comments were written about an innocent man (I BEG YOU to PLEASE read the case… and please list the evidence listed against Mr. Ebanks, PLEASE!).
     "He should die a prisoner?"  "He should be put to death?"… my God, my God, please be with Mr. Ebanks and the REST of this community for we are in need of YOUR help!!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Kurt Ebanks = coward


    You commit the crime you do the time.

  3. Anonymous says:

    The best thing that Kurt can now do is to confesses that he murdered Curtis and beg God for forgiveness. He will die a prisoner. Repent!

  4. Anonymous says:

    My friend Curtis had no chance to appeal, perhaps he even begged for his life and was callously ignored. Kurt Ebanks has now had more of a chance than Curtis ever had and he should remain in Northward until the day he dies. It’s a pity that place is so comfortable, because he deserves to suffer every day. For all the lawyers and human rights activists, Kurt Ebanks has had his fair chance (though he does not deserve it), now let him be to suffer as he should.

    • Anonymous says:

      This posting encapsulates what many of us must be feeling, surely.

  5. Anonymous says:

    This decision must be a tremendous relief for the victim’s family. I recall the case, shocking in its callousness by any measure. How can human life mean so little to these people? Truthfully, it’s beyond me.

  6. Anonymous says:

    What about his victim who can he appeal to? thanks ECHR atleast the public and the victim’s family have some degree of satisfaction knowing that he is locked away.

  7. Anonymous says:

    He should thank his luck stars that he lives in Cayman where there is human rights and the right to an appeal. He should be grateful that he is still alive his victim is not.  Thanks you ECHR for your decision.

  8. Anonymous says:

    So this means anyone here over 10 years can take immigration all the way and win

  9. Anonymous says:

    As everyone knows during this Christian holy week until this man accepts responsiblity for his actions and repents he will continue to suffer. Trying to manipulate the legal system to get out of taking responsiblity is not the answer.


  10. Anonymous says:

    He should be thanking GOD (if he believes in GOD, or his lucky stars if he does not) that he lives in Cayman & got life in prison as opposed to the death penalty. He should ask for forgiveness not an appeal!