Legal aid sought in Syed trial

Judge told that assets of former UCCI president are frozen

Hassan Syed, former president of the University College of the Cayman Islands, is still without an attorney formally on record, although his trial for theft is scheduled to start on March 2. 

Syed appeared in Grand Court on Friday, when attorney James Stenning told Justice Malcolm Swift that his firm’s representation was subject to Syed obtaining legal aid. He said the court officer who deals with legal aid applications wanted to speak with Syed about his assets. 

So far, legal aid has been refused on the basis that Syed has assets, but they are frozen and he is not permitted to use them, the attorney explained. 

The matter did progress somewhat, in that Crown Counsel handed Mr. Stenning a folder of documents for the case. Justice Swift said he thought the folder should be handed to the defendant personally in the event that any difficulties arose. 

He then suggested that Syed be arraigned so that his pleas could be on record, but Mr. Stenning asked if Syed could first go through the documents he had just received.  

The judge agreed and said he would give two weeks for the papers to be read. He set the matter for Dec. 19. 

Another attorney, who was not present when Syed mentioned his name the previous week, attended court on Friday and explained his “very preliminary” discussions with Syed. He advised the court that Syed had notified him that his assistance was no longer required. 

The defendant has been on bail for medical reasons since his return to Cayman from Switzerland in May. He has not yet formally entered pleas to 15 charges that include theft, obtaining a pecuniary advantage and obtaining a money order by deception. 

Syed is alleged to have used UCCI credit cards for personal transactions, stealing around $200,000 in total. The allegations came out of an auditor general’s report and relate to his time as president of the university between 2006 and 2008.  

Hassan-Syed

Hassan Syed

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