Murder Accused Urged To Employ Lawyer

16th February 2017
Richard De Wit appeared in court earlier today (Credit: Caters News Agency)

Richard De Wit appeared in court earlier today (Credit: Caters News Agency)

Court has convened for the 88th time in the Sarah Groves murder trial.

It’s understood some progress was made, but the new judge in charge of the case is reported to be losing patience with the man accused of her murder.

Richard De Wit – who denies murder – says he is able to represent himself – but did describe his condition as ‘mentally strong but physically weak.’

The judge ordered that certain prosecution papers be given to Mr De Wit – but he says no witnesses can be summoned until he secures some kind of legal representation.

No witnesses appeared before the court today, but a medical report was also referred to.

The next hearing is due to take place on Wednesday 1st March.

You can read a statement issued by Sarah’s father, Vic Groves, below:

“This was another unsatisfactory hearing although there were signs that the judge is becoming progressively more impatient with the defendant’s ‘delaying’ tactics.

The medical report referred to at the last hearing appears to have been glossed over. The Jail Superintendent recommended that Richard de Wit should receive psychiatric help. Although the current Superintendent is relatively ‘new in post’, this is a statement of the obvious which has been known throughout the trial. Richard de Wit has refuted this prognosis and refuses to accept any form of medical treatment. It would appear, therefore, that he is deemed fit to continue standing trial.

The major problem remains his lack of legal representation. In court, he requested copies of all court papers relating to the prosecution witnesses heard so far. He claims to be able to represent himself in court provided he has a full understanding of the case history. In his own words ‘I am mentally strong but physically weak’.

Sarah Groves was found dead on a houseboat in Kashmir in April 2013

Sarah Groves was found dead on a houseboat in Kashmir in April 2013

The judge ordered the court to share all the documents of the case with him so that he could either find a lawyer or prepare a case for himself. (He can be seen leaving the court with the papers in the attached images). The consensus is that he is not mentally capable of defending himself, which will perpetuate the logjam now faced in this trial unless an outside lawyer is appointed. The judge ordered him to resolve this matter but these are empty words as such orders are never enforced. He also implied that without a lawyer, the case could well go against him.

He went on to suggest and name a local human rights lawyer who may be able to help but Richard de Wit countered by saying that he trusts no-one and that previous lawyers have not represented him well. There is considerable truth in this assertion as the standard and level of witness cross-examination has been lamentable.

At the last hearing on 31st January, the defendant stated that he wanted ‘to talk to Sarah’s parents’ because he had a ‘secret’ to disclose. He claims to have new information for our ears only.

Since then, we have been trying to establish the nature of the information he has. We have decided that, whereas we are anxious to know the details, we cannot afford the time and cost of going to Kashmir ‘on a whim’. In other words, we are willing to go out at very short notice (visas have been renewed) provided we will learn something new.

It is proving very difficult to communicate with the authorities and with the accused in order to establish the facts. In a conversation with the jail Superintendent, we can visit him in jail (we both have the court’s permission to do this) but we cannot speak to him by telephone.

In a discussion with the Public Prosecutor immediately after today’s hearing, who feels that Richard de Wit is being very un-cooperative, we have since established that he can apply to the court for an order that will allow a telephone conversation to take place. Efforts will now be made to enable this to happen and a further release will be put out in the event of significant developments.

The next hearing is scheduled for Wednesday, March 1st 2017 but witnesses will not be summoned unless legal representation of some kind is secured.”

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