Scorpions fight subpoenas from PMB magistrate

2008-04-04 00:00

Pietermaritzburg magistrate Ashin Singh has been accused by regional head of the Scorpions, Gerhardus Nel, of abusing the process of court for issuing subpoenas demanding that he and Glenn Agliotti investigator Andrew Leask appear in his court next week to testify in a criminal trial.

Singh allegedly threatened them with arrest if they fail to do so.

Nel and Leask have filed papers in support of an urgent application to the high court today to review Singh’s order and set aside the subpoenas issued on February 18.

Nel and Leask were subpoenaed to give evidence in a case in which Singh is required to sentence a Nigerian man, Christopher Richard Anakubeze (26), who was convicted of possession of 11 “jaws” of cocaine weighing 31,8665 grams.

In an affidavit, Nel says he was “taken aback” by the subpoena as until it was served he was unaware of the existence of Anakubeze or that he was on trial in Pietermaritzburg on a charge of dealing in cocaine.

He said he and Leask do not have personal knowledge of the facts of the case and cannot give relevant or admissible evidence.

He said Singh erroneously assumed that Leask and he could give relevant evidence due to their involvement in the Agliotti prosecution, but said Agliotti was convicted and sentenced for dealing in hashish (an “undesirable” drug in law), while Anakubeze has been convicted regarding cocaine (a “dangerous” drug). He said the reasons for the plea agreement reached with Agliotti were specific to that case.

Nel submitted that there is no legitimate purpose for the subpoenas as Singh can obtain parts of the record in the Agliotti matter.

In the trial, Singh referred to having read in the newspaper that a “big international drug dealer” (Agliotti) got a wholly suspended sentence for possession or dealing in 3,5 tons of cocaine. He then commented: “I can’t see myself sending this man to jail when a person with three-and-a-half tons of cocaine is walking free”.

After ordering the prosecutor to subpoena the investigating officer in the Agliotti case, he then stated that “If he is not here, you must warn him he will be arrested”.

Nel said there is a “history of agitation” by Singh against the National Prosecuting Authority and Investigative Directorate of Organised Crime arising from when he was seconded to the unit (now the DSO or Scorpions), and charges that he then faced.

Singh later won a stay of prosecution, but has embarked on civil litigation against officials, some of whom are now at the DSO.

Nel said Singh also made it “quite clear” in an article in last month’s Witness that he supports the move to disband the DSO. It is titled; “The Zuma Files. Lies, spies and why the Scorpions must die”.

Singh told The Witness yesterday he had only just been served with a copy of the court papers and is considering his position.

“I have no personal interest in the matter. As a magistrate I have to determine an appropriate sentence for the cocaine charges … I view their conduct as the ‘last kick of a dying horse’ as within a few months the DSO will be history,” he said.

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