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Former Teacher Remains In Custody For Sexual Abuse

Former teacher Andre Birbal will remain in custody until his trial on sexual abuse allegations, a judge ruled yesterday.

Birbal, who is accused of having sex with two male students at the Eight Mile Rock High School, appeared before Senior Justice Jon Isaacs for a fixture hearing for his retrial.

The Court of Appeal last year overturned Birbal’s conviction and 35-year sentence and ordered a second trial in New Providence.

The appellate court ruled that mistakes during Senior Justice Hartman Longley’s summation to the jury during the trial in 2011 resulted in a gross miscarriage of justice.

Justice Vera Watkins sent the case back to Isaacs for reassignment after she stepped down from the case because she is a distant relative of one of Birbal’s accusers.

Birbal, 50, will now be tried before Justice Roy Jones on October 7, 2013. He will be represented by court-appointed attorney Romona Farquharson.

Birbal represented himself at an application for habeas corpus in which he alleged that his continued detention was unjustified.

However, Isaacs dismissed the argument, ruling that the order for retrial was the legal basis for his continued detention. Isaacs also pointed out that Parliament had mandated that three years is a reasonable time to await trial and Birbal had not yet passed that threshold.

Isaacs refused bail as he considered the resident of Trinidad and Tobago a flight risk. Birbal also asked for restrictions on press coverage prior to the trial.

He said that some reports incorrectly referred to him as a convicted child molester.

Isaacs did not make any ruling on the adverse publicity application. However, he warned members of the press that inflammatory statements could contaminate the potential jury pool.

He reminded reporters that they had a duty to ensure that court reports were accurate.

By Artesia Davis
Guardian Senior Reporter

Posted in Headlines

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