Khan's next court date to set stage for trial
-lawyer told of hood 'ordeal' in Suriname

Businessman Roger Khan's next court date is to be a short hearing aimed at setting the stage for his trial which could begin sometime in early September, his US attorney, John Bergendahl told Stabroek News yesterday from New York.

The lawyer said that while another of his colleagues has had an interview with Khan since he was captured by the US two weeks ago, he is yet to see the charge against his client and as such could not say whether the evidence against Khan is strong.

The lawyer explained that the August 4 court date is basically a status conference. He said the court would decide then how long the case is going to last and glean from both the prosecution and defence their state of readiness for the trial. He said that the court would ask whether the government would be providing any material evidence and the number of witnesses among other things.

Bergendahl in a seven-page motion two weeks ago had approached a New York court asking that the indictment against Khan be dismissed. Khan was indicted by a New York Grand Jury in May this year for conspiracy to import cocaine. He has since been charged with the offence, which alleges that between January 2001 and March 2006 he conspired with others to import cocaine. In his motion Bergendahl said that the cryptic form of the indictment puts Khan in the position of going to trial blind as details of the conspiracy are undefined. He said there is a risk that he could then be convicted on the basis of facts not found by and perhaps not even presented to the grand jury which indicted him.

Suriname

Khan and three of his bodyguards were captured in Suriname on June 15 during a huge drug bust that netted some 213 kilos of cocaine. He subsequently appeared in a Paramaribo Magistrate's court charged for being part of a criminal organization, possession and trafficking of narcotics and possession of firearms. The charges were however withdrawn to facilitate Khan's deportation from Suriname and subsequent apprehension by the US.

Chaos in Suriname Parliament over Khan's deportation

 

Meanwhile, Khan speaking from his New York Penitentiary disclosed to one of his attorneys that following his arrest in Suriname on June 15 he was subjected to a variety of torture methods including but not limited to physical beatings and deprivation of food and water. He said, too, that a hood was placed over his head for in excess of 36 hours and he was left without food or water.

Businessman Roger Khan, said that  a hood was placed over his head for in excess of 36 hours and he was left without food or water.

 Khan said that while in Suriname he repeatedly requested an attorney, charge documents and access to the courts. During interrogation he was presented with a statement in Dutch, which he refused to sign, while the beatings continued unabated until June 30 when he was released from the Santo Boma prison and deported from Suriname. According to the businessman on June 30 at approximately 1:30 am, he was handcuffed, shackled and hooded and then placed in a vehicle. Still hooded, Khan recalled hearing sounds consistent with an airport. At this point, Khan said he spoke to the Commander of the `A Team' and requested an attorney, paperwork or documentation for him to appear before a judge for which he was scheduled that afternoon. He also demanded to be returned to Guyana. None of the requests was granted. Khan said upon making these requests he was told by the Commander: "We are above the law, this is a government decision not a court decision".

Khan said a plane ticket was then thrust into his hands and he was placed on a Suriname commercial flight on his way to Trinidad and Tobago. Khan said that he repeated the aforementioned requests both on the plane and at the base of the stairs when the aircraft landed in Trinidad and Tobago. According to Khan at the base of the stairs there were US government officials including members of the US Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA).

Once off the plane in Trinidad Khan said he was placed in the back of a SUV with DEA agents on both sides. He said he had recognized one of the DEA officials from the Suriname flight. At this point the businessman said he repeated the requests he had made in Suriname adding that he was being kidnapped by the US. He said that in the front seat of the SUV was a Trinidad official. Khan said he was then driven to a hangar and presented with customs forms which he refused to sign. He was then placed on a private jet with US officials wherein he repeated his requests for basic due process as well as protesting his being kidnapped.

United States Ambassador to Guyana, Roland Bullen explained in an interview with this newspaper recently that Khan was not abducted nor was he rendered. Bullen said US DEA officials acting on a provisional arrest warrant which was issued to the Trinidad and Tobago government, arrested the drug accused. Khan's local attorney, Glenn Hanoman said that the Surinamese government should be made to answer a number of questions in relation to Khan's alleged deportation.

Hanoman has asked whether someone can be let onto a commercial aircraft without any travel document, as was the case with Khan from Suriname to Trinidad. According to the attorney, usually when someone is deported, the deporting country would obtain a temporary travel document from the deportee's country's embassy, which would allow him to travel. Hanoman is asking also whether any arrangement was made for Khan to travel from Trinidad to Guyana. He said that the Surinamese authorities had said that Khan was being deported to Guyana via Trinidad and Tobago, but based upon information no arrangement was in place to facilitate this. Moreover, the attorney said that the Suriname Airways flight was not flying to Guyana and if indeed Khan was destined for Guyana he would have had to board another plane. Hanoman also clarified that Khan did not meet US DEA official, Gary Tuggle in Suriname as he had stated before. He said two DEA officials had accompanied Khan from Suriname to Trinidad and Tobago but Tuggle was not one of them. He said however that Tuggle was later seen in Trinidad and Tobago.