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Wednesday, May 26, 1999 Published at 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK


Nine lose hanging appeal

There was anger in Trinidad about the stay of execution

British law lords have dismissed an appeal against the death sentence by a Trinidadian drug baron and eight gang members

The men's lawyers had argued that hanging was a "cruel and unusual punishment" and therefore illegal.

But the law lords of the Privy Council, who act as a final court of appeal for several Caribbean countries, decided against the motion.

'Drug dispute'

They also rescinded a stay of execution granted to the nine men last week.

This means the Trinidad and Tobago authorities can now proceed with the hangings - the first in the country in nearly five years - as well as processing the cases of more than 100 other convicts on death row.

The case centred on Dole Chadee and eight other prisoners who were convicted for the 1994 slayings of Hamilton "Mice" Baboolal, and Baboolal's father, mother and sister, reportedly over a drug dispute.

Hamilton Baboolal and his family were killed after he threatened to quit Chadee's gang, which modelled itself on the Colombian drugs cartels.

Graves dug

Chadee, Joey Ramiah, Ramkellawan Singh, Robin Gopaul, Russell Sankeralli, Clive Thomas, Bhagwandeen Singh, Stephen Eversley and Joel Ramsingh have been on Death Row since September 1996.

According to Trinidad's Attorney General, Ramesh Maharaj, they will be executed in a matter of days.

Graves have already been dug for them at Golden Grove prison.

Out of touch

Although Trinidad and Tobago became independent in 1976, the Privy Council in London remains its court of last resort.

The UK Government has been trying to persuade its former colonies in the Caribbean to abolish capital punishment.

But Trinidad's government are tired of being thwarted by judges thousands of miles away in London, who they regard as being completely out of touch with the needs of the Caribbean.

They regard capital punishment as the best way of deterring the growing number of drug-related murders and in July the regions leaders will decide whether to set up their own regional supreme court.

Last year Trinidad and Tobago withdrew from the optional protocol to the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which had given those on Death Row the right to petition the United Nations Human Rights Committee.

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