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T&T's mandatory death sentence for murder constitutional, Privy Council rules

The London-based Privy Council has ruled that the mandatory sentence of death for murder in Trinidad and Tobago is constitutional, and only Parliament can rewrite the law.
 
In its ruling on Monday, the Privy Council unanimously dismissed the appeal that had been filed by Jay Chandler, who was convicted in 2011 of the 2004 murder of Kirn Phillip and was sentenced to death by hanging.
 
His conviction and sentence was upheld on appeal by the Court of Appeal of Trinidad and Tobago and by the Privy Council in a judgment of March 12, 2018. 
 
The appellant's sentence has since been commuted to one of life imprisonment.
 
In this appeal, Chandler mounted a constitutional challenge to the mandatory death penalty.
 
But in its ruling, the nine-member Privy Council stated that it is not persuaded that it should depart from its earlier decision and that the principle of legal certainty dictates that there must be very strong reasons before it will depart from such a ruling.
 


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