Courtesy of Enrico Woolford in New York
The contentious eavesdropping equipment surfaced again in the New York Eastern District courthouse when one of the defendants, Criminal Attorney Robert Simels, took the stand in his own defence yesterday.
Guyanese Shaheed Roger Khan
Simels was once the lead attorney for Guyanese Shaheed Roger Khan who has since entered into a plea deal with the Federal authorities on drug trafficking charges.
Simels, who is fighting to clear his name of 13 charges, including witness tampering, obstruction of justice and importation of eavesdropping equipment, stated that he was investigating the fact that in Guyana, Roger Khan was a hero for taking on the ‘Taliban’. The Taliban was the name given gunmen who used Buxton as a safe haven.
Simels told the court that his former client, who was kidnapped from Port of Spain by Federal agents, told him that he was not a drug dealer but a Guyanese businessman.
The attorney declared in open court that “businessman Khan, got help from the Government of Guyana to have intercept equipment and guns to fight the Buxton gang known as the ‘Taliban’”.
Simels, looking relaxed and sometimes professorial in attitude, sat forward in the witness stand and spoke directly to the jury, claiming what he did was expected of a defence attorney who believed that his client was innocent of the charges in the Federal Court.
Before taking on the Khan case in August of 2006, Simels claimed that he never knew Khan or heard about Guyana except when someone reminded him of an infamous incident that occurred several years ago (the Jonestown mass suicide).
He spent his time reading about Guyana from books and internet editions of Guyanese newspaper.
To support his contention that he wanted to get as much information about the country and the Khan’s narcotics charges, he traveled to Guayna four times.
During those four times in Guyana, Simels said, he met the Minister of Health Dr. Leslie Ramsammy; Minister of Home Affairs (Clement) Rohee; the Commissioner General of the Guyana Revenue Authority Khurshid Sattaur; and an unnamed High Court Judge whom he called an Oracle!
From the witness stand, Simels stated that he spoke with Chairman of the Private Sector Commission Captain Gerry Gouviea, Major General Retired Norman McLean, politician Ravi Dev and newspaper columnist Freddie Kissoon.
Roger Khan’s former attorney spent more than three hours on the witness stand and also addressed the issue of the contentious laptop purchase.
The attorney said that because of the narcotics case, his investigators had discovered that a former Army Major might have been one of the witnesses to testify against Roger Khan.
His former client then told him that he had recordings of the Army Major David Clarke, that would prove he and Clarke were not co-conspirators in a drug conspiracy, as alleged in the indictment by the US prosecutors.
Simels said he obtained an ex parte subpoena for the Spy Store and FBI agent Justin Krider to disclose how the “intercept equipment was purchased.
He declared that the intercept equipment was purchased in 2003 through the Spy Shop in Florida from Smith Myers on the authorisation of the Minister of Health, Dr Leslie Ramsammy.
This is the third witness in sworn testimony that has coupled the Minister’s name with facilitating the purchase of the equipment.
Both the Guyana Government and Dr. Ramsammy have denied any connection to the “equipment”. Dr Ramsammy became furious when reporters insisted that he keep defending himself against the purchase of the spy equipment.
According to Simels, his client Roger Khan wanted to show that the former Army officer was in league with the Buxton gang and that the officer was the drug dealer.
Khan, Simels said, linked Clarke to drugs because there were transcripts in the New York Eastern District in the Sharwin Lilly case that named Clarke and his brother, Hubert Clarke, aka ‘Dun Dun’ and Hubert’s girlfriend, Shelley McEwan to narcotics.
Khan wanted to use the recording of the intercepts of Clarke that he made on the CSM 7806 and laptops to convince the jury that he and Clarke were not co-conspirators in a narcotics conspiracy but actually enemies in a political struggle.
Shaheed Roger Khan has since admitted that he is guilty, not only of narcotics trafficking and firearm possession, but also on one of the charges his attorney is fighting, “Witness Tampering”.
At least two attorneys in the New Eastern District have pointed out that the fact Khan has entered a guilty plea, means that he, Khan, has accepted the evidence in the case that Simels is trying to defend himself.
Simels also said he met with named drug dealers in Guyana on his trips to gather information.
He said the dealers came to the Pegasus and he met some persons at a home in Guyana. Simels said that Khan named another “businessman and associate” (in the Timber Business) who had the same nickname “Shortman” and that it was he who was the source of the narcotics for Hubert Clarke, David Clarke and Nigel Rodney aka Sharwyn Lilly.
When the Defence continued its case yesterday it called two attorneys to the stand.
One testified about the procedure of visiting inmates at detention facilities and prisons. The other, prominent New York attorney, Anthony Ricco, appeared as an “expert witness” on Criminal Defense Procedure, Regulations and ethics.
On Monday, after the prosecution completed calling its witnesses, the Defence moved for what in Guyana is called a no case submission motion. The judge denied the motion.
The Defence will continue its presentation today when Simels will complete his testimony and face cross-examination.
Wednesday, August 05, 2009