Syed struggles to find lawyer as trial looms

| 01/12/2014

(CNS): The former president of the UCCI, who is charged with stealing more than a half million dollars from the college, is struggling to find a lawyer despite being three months away from his trial. Hassan Syed, who voluntarily returned to Cayman earlier this year after he was arrested in Switzerland, told the court Friday that he had contacted almost a dozen lawyers to represent him but had failed to secure the services of any of them. Syed was on the run for almost five years after allegations came to light that he had used a government credit card to buy jewellery and pay for lavish weekends away. In October he parted company with James Austin Smith, the lawyer originally representing him.

Syed told the court he had come back to face the music because of a guarantee that his human rights would be protected by the governor. However, the former UCCI boss and IT expert implied Friday that they were somehow being breeched. Syed also said that he had not received any directions from the crown about the evidence against him or the necessary papers.

The court heard that the papers had, however, been served on Syed's former lawyer, Austin-Smiith, who was in the court and able to assist. He confirmed that he did have the documentation, but for reasons which were not revealed to the public courtroom, Austin-Smith said he “was not keen” to give them to the defendant, having come off- record. He said, however, that he had spoken to another local defence attorney, Richard Barton, who, according to Syed, was considering taking the case. 

Toyin Salako, the crown’s counselin the case, noted that the circumstances were all rather unusual and denied any breech of Syed’s rights. She said the crown had served the necessary papers but the defendant’s issues with lawyers were his to resolve as a trial date was set for 13 March, a date which the crown was not willing to move. She noted that despite facing some thirteen counts, he had not yet answered the charges on the indictment.

Given what appeared to be an impasse, the judge asked the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to file a new set of appropriate documents to Syed, who was bailed to return to the court on 5 December, in order to confirm new representation. Justice Charles Quin, who was presiding over the Grand Court mentions Friday, urged Syed to begin reading the papers as soon as he received them and secure the services of a lawyer.

Category: Crime

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