Judge delays surgery to hear case against Ibori in London court
ANTHONY Pitts, the judge in charge of the confiscation of assets hearing of former Delta State governor, James Ibori, in a London court is making a sacrifice in order to put the £89 million case to bed. The judge, who jailed Ibori after the former governor pleaded guilty to charges against him, including those of money laundering, a few years ago, disclosed this yesterday when the court sat to decide on the hearing timetable.
Making the disclosure inside courtroom 14 yesterday, the Southwark Crown Court judge revealed that he had been told the hearing would last for six weeks, beginning on April 13, and not six to eight weeks as being proposed by the Crown Prosecution’s Esther Schutzer- Wisemann.
Shortly after Pitts took his seat, Schutzer-Wisemann told the court that the hearing would last between six to eight weeks. But almost immediately, she was interrupted by the judge, who said: “ I was told six weeks. I have an operation which I should be having now, but I pushed it back till the end of six weeks.” Pitts then informed both sides of the Bench:”I’m not pushing it back any further” irrespective of whether the case would have finished by then or not. He, however, said if it continued beyond six weeks from then, he would be available to sit on it again in either September or October . Ibori’s defence led by Ivan Krolick, started the day, accusing the Crown of not following an order by the judge.
He told the judge the prosecution had not given an indication of which part of the trial evidence they are going to rely on. He also accused them of not giving a “disclosure of all the evidence we had asked for.” As if pleading for the judge to compel the Crown to signpost them, Krolick said:” They haven’t told us which evidence they will rely on. Were the case to proceed – I’m not asking for an adjournment – we will have 66,000 pages to deal with.” Seeing that the judge was neither shifting ground nor obliging him, Krolick reiterated later: “ I’m not asking for an adjournment, but that – the judge make an order – by Wednesday of this week, they tell us what they intend to rely on.”
Krolick made frantic effort to make an issue of it, emphasising that “we can’t cope with the enormous trial evidence – of 66,000 pages- and therefore pleaded with the judge to make an order. I ask that the Crown be ordered to comply with the order against them.” On her part, the government’s lawyer noted: “The Crown has always said over a year and a half ago that they will rely on all trial evidence” and that it is not actually “necessary to tell them which,” evidence we’ll be relying on. What matters, she argued, “ is that they are all available in court.”