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Quark pleads not guilty to illegal fishing charges.

Wednesday, December 1st 2004 - 20:00 UTC
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Some of the difficulties occasionally involved in bringing a case to court in the Falkland Islands were aired today, Wednesday, when Hugh Ferguson, legal representative of local fishing company, Quark Fishing Ltd and Spanish company Freiremar AS asked for a further adjournment of the cases against his clients till the end of April or early May.

Earlier, the court had heard Mr. Ferguson enter a plea of not guilty to each of five charges against his clients, which concern alleged over-fishing by the vessel Ibsa Quinto, owned by Freimar and chartered by Quark and alleged breaches of conditions relating to the minimisation of incidental mortality of seabirds by the long-liner Jacqueline owned by Quark Fishing Ltd.

Crown Counsel Miss Rosalind Cheek, for the prosecution, asked for an adjournment before a pre-trial review, citing the fact that one witness that she would call was in South Georgia and another two spent considerable time at sea. She said that she would make no objection if the defence were to ask for a lengthier adjournment, but she hoped that the case could be in court in January, rather than later.

For the defence, Hugh Ferguson told the court that he had listened to the thoughts and instructions of his clients and that as a consequence he would anticipate a suitable date for the trial being around the end of April or the beginning of May, with a pre-trial revue possible in mid-February. Although the charges against his clients were "relatively minor" there was a geat deal of evidence to be gathered and it would take some time for the whereabouts and availability of a number of witnesses to be established.

Mr. Ferguson also informed the court that it was his clients' intention to instruct counsel who, it had already been ascertained, would not be available between mid-March and early April.

Taking these factors into account together with time constraints caused by her own absence on leave from the latter part of May, Senior Magistrate, Mrs Clare Faulds, presiding, granted an adjournment on all charges until 9th February, on which date a pre-trial revue would be scheduled. By this time, she hoped that statements would have been taken and witnesses agreed to enable the cases to proceed to trial at the earliest possible date thereafter.

John Fowler (MP) Stanley

Categories: Falkland Islands.

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