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Court grants stay of execution
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June 11 Port of Spain Trinidad: A stay of execution was granted by The High Court yesterday to convicted murderer Lester Pitman following a notice of appeal filed by his lawyers.

Maintaining his stand on the death penalty, however, Attorney General John Jeremie issued a statement to the media after Pitman won the stay of execution. "This of course shall not deter the State from pursuing the execution of its constitutionally determined mandate in the very near future, in respect of the other condemned prisoners," the AG's office stated.

Even before Justice Rajendra Narine granted the stay yesterday, Gilbert Peterson SC, who represented the AG and Commissioner of Prisons in a motion filed by Pitman, said the State's decision to stand down the execution, which had been planned for Monday, was only temporary.

He told the judge that the State would agree to a stay that lasted only until after Pitman's appeal against his conviction is determined by the Privy Council.

Pitman, 25, of Mitagual, San Juan, was convicted of the 2001 murders of UK-born agricultural consultant and philanthropist John Cropper, his mother-in-law Maggie Lee, 83, and sister-in-law Lynette Lithgow Pearson, 51, a former British Broadcasting Corporation anchorwoman.

Attorney General John Jeremie told Parliament on Monday that State executions would resume, and Pitman was read a death warrant two days later.

By Thursday, a constitutional motion was filed on Pitman's behalf seeking a stay of the execution order on the basis that he had an appeal pending before the Privy Council, and an order commuting his sentence to life imprisonment.

Justice Narine heard the application for the stay yesterday (Friday) morning in the Port of Spain Civil Chamber Court.

Peterson said he could not oppose the stay in light of a notice that Pitman wanted his appeal heard by the Privy Council. That notice was dated April 22, but Peterson said the State had no knowledge that it existed before he saw it on Thursday.

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