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EU Court Decides

In a case from Cayman to go before the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), a man convicted of murder lost his appeal based on a claim that he was denied his right to a fair trial.

Kurt Ebanks is serving a life sentence at Northward Prison for the 18 January 2000 murder of taxi driver Curtis Seymour.

Having lost his appeal to the Privy Council in August 2006, Ebanks took his case to the ECHR in Strasbourg, using the right of individual petition.

Attorney General the Hon. Samuel Bulgin, QC, JP, explained that this right was permanently extended to the Cayman Islands on 23 February 2006."This is of some significance because as far as I am aware, this was the first time it has been used by an appellant from the Cayman Islands."

The ECHR Court is Cayman's highest appeals tribunal in matters of human rights. Ebanks' petition against the UK Government was filed by attorney Robin McMillan of the law firm Appleby, while Mr. David Perry QC represented the UK Government who is the proper party to any such matters before the ECHR, even though the case originated from the Cayman Islands, an Overseas Territory.

Ebanks had complained that his lawyers in the Grand Court trial had failed to properly defend him and act according to his instructions. He also claimed that both the Cayman Islands Court of Appeal and the Privy Council had failed to remedy that injustice.

He contended these failures were a breach of his rights under Article 6 (1) in conjunction with Article 6 (3) (c) of the EU Convention on Human Rights.

Article 6 (1) holds that a person facing a criminal charge is entitled to a fair hearing by a tribunal sitting to determine that charge. Article 6 (3) (c) ensures that anyone charged with a criminal offence has the minimum rights of defence in person or through legal assistance of choice, for which in the interests of justice, he or she would be entitled to legal aid if unable to pay.

The seven judges found that while Ebanks' case was admissible to be heard, neither of these rights had been violated and he had received a fair trial.


For further information contact: Bina Mani