UCCI ex-president still has no lawyer

Hassan Syed’s trial date remains March 2, 2015

Hassan Iftikar Syed, former president of the University College of the Cayman Islands, appeared in Grand Court on Friday and told Justice Charles Quin he still did not have an attorney. 

“So far, I have contacted 11 lawyers,” he said, indicating that he had not yet been successful in retaining one. 

Syed faces charges dating from September 2006 to June 2008 that include theft, obtaining a pecuniary advantage and obtaining a money order by deception. 

Crown counsel Toyin Salako asked the judge to remind him that his trial is set for three weeks starting March 2, 2015. “The sooner he secures an attorney, the better,” she observed. 

Justice Quin asked if any of the 11 attorneys had given him a reason why they wouldn’t or couldn’t take his case. 

“No,” the defendant replied. 

He did name one attorney with whom he said he had met three times, but that attorney told him he was still studying the case and needed more time. 

Ms. Salako expressed concern that the named attorney was not present to speak for himself. She said it didn’t seem quite correct that someone would take three to four weeks before deciding whether to take a case. 

The defendant pointed out that he had returned to Cayman voluntarily in May this year. At that time, attorney James Austin-Smith had represented him when he first appeared in Summary Court on May 29 after arriving from Switzerland the day before. He was granted bail with strict conditions after the court heard of his medical conditions. 

In October, Mr. Austin-Smith was given court permission to come off record, but he said he would try to assist Mr. Syed in obtaining legal representation and would also assist with bail conditions as they affected the defendant’s need for medical treatment. 

On Friday, there was some confusion over who held the papers in the case for the defendant. 

Mr. Austin-Smith, who was not robed to appear in the Grand Court, came into the courtroom and was asked by Justice Quin to assist in clarifying the matter. 

Mr. Austin-Smith said his firm was not keen to pass on the papers, so another attorney did not have them. 

Justice Quin indicated that the simplest thing to do would be for the Crown to provide another set of papers. 

Ms. Salako agreed and suggested another date for an attorney to come on record or not. 

The judge set the next mention for Friday, Dec. 5. 

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