Category Archives: Criminal Justice System

Ramotar now says board will deal with NCN irregularities

-chairman had said he was waiting on President

Following a series of unfulfilled promises to reveal what action he would take against officials implicated in financial irregularities at the state broadcaster NCN, Presi-dent Donald Ramotar on Saturday stated that NCN’s Board would deal with the matter but since 2012 the Board had said it was awaiting his pronouncement on it.

Asked about the matter at a news conference at State House, Ramotar said that all the time he was labouring under the impression that the report was not made public but he understood that it was on the Government Informa-tion Agency (GINA) website for a long time until the website was hacked. He said that the report is back up again and added that an announcement on some of the issues will be made later.

It was pointed out to the President by Stabroek News that he was asked and he had promised to reveal what actions he had or would take against those implicated in the multi-million dollar financial scandal. The president responded that NCN has a Board and there are certain functions that a Board will have so “let’s first of all deal with it at the level of the Board before and let me look at that and see what will happen.”

When it was pointed out to him that the Board would have investigated the matter and had sent him a report, the president responded: “No, the Board had sent the report to me. All the Board (did) was sent a report to me. They didn’t make any recommendation and so forth.”

In December 2012, the then Chairman of the NCN Board of Directors Prem Misir, had told Stabroek News that the closure report on the financial irregularities at the state-owned broadcaster was with Ramotar, who was yet to offer his advice. “The President has been in and out… I think he just returned from Peru although I can’t say for sure but I sent him the report and it’s on his desk,” Misir told Stabroek News at the time. “The reason the President is involved is technically because he is the Minister of Information [and] so he got the closure report. He agreed to look at it expeditiously,” he had said. “I think [Programme Manager Martin] Goolsarran’s unpaid leave is still happening, that has not changed. The President has to make that decision,” Misir added. Goolsarran is no longer with NCN.

Head of the Presidential Secretariat Dr Roger Luncheon in November 2012 had also announced at his post-cabinet briefing that the board had completed its probe and that the results were with Ramotar. Luncheon at that time acknowledged that he had seen the report but refused to disclose whether there were any recommendations for dismissals. “The board has concluded their investigation (and) there is a report that has been submitted to the Minister of Information, the president recognizing some interim steps and additional recommendations. The Office of the President is yet to pronounce definitively on that matter”, he said.

Responding to a question on whether there were recommendations made by the Board about dismissals, he said “There are a number of recommendations made by the Board about current employees. I am not at liberty right now to disclose what those are but I can undertake to ensure that the Office of the President and Minister of Information, (make it) public knowledge at an appropriate time.”

 

In a way

Last month, Ramotar acknowledged that he has taken a long time to reveal whether he took any action against officials implicated in the financial irregularities NCN and said that a lot of the issues “in a way” have been resolved.

He had spoken at length about his administration’s efforts to fight corruption and when it was pointed out that it has been two years since NCN officials who have close ties to the PPP were implicated in the financial scandal at the state broadcaster, the President agreed that it has been a long time. However, he said, “a lot of the issues in a way has been resolved, the CEO is not there…they have not been there but we’ll get to that I promise you.”

The President was asked about the issue at prior news conferences but despite promises, he has not revealed what action he will take against officials implicated in the financial scandal. At a news conference on June 7, he again had no answers when asked about the issue. “I have nothing new to report on that. I really was preoccupied with many other things at this point in time. I’m sorry, next time hopefully I’ll be in a better position,” the president said.

“I wasn’t prepared for that question at this point in time but I’ll probably look into it and see if I can give you an answer after…,” the President said in March. In April 2013, he had said that he would make his decision known “very soon.”

Last April, Luncheon said that government has concerns about the recommendations made by the auditor who uncovered the financial irregularities at NCN. “I think the review of what the auditor submitted as recommendations… and his specific Terms of Reference [ToR] continue to be a source of some concern by the administration… I for one feel that he overstepped his bounds, went beyond his ToR in the recommendations that had been made and more than likely that has stultified any action on those recommendations,” Luncheon had told a news briefing.

“I would want to believe that the matter would have died, but it obviously has not died and actually I suspect that there may well be some imminent interventions, revelations that would bring this matter again to the fore,” he had said.

Harry Parmesar, the auditor who uncovered the financial irregularities at NCN subsequently told Stabroek News that he was never contacted about any concerns that the government might have had about his findings.

Former NCN Programme Manager Goolsarran and NCN’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mohammed ‘Fuzzy’ Sattaur were implicated in the scandal. Critics have said the reason why there has been no action is that the two persons at the centre of the probe have close ties to the ruling party. Analysts see the case as a litmus test of whether the government is serious about accountability and financial probity in the state sector.

The duo had allegedly pressured employees to backdate invoices, Goolsarran had deposited millions of dollars in his personal bank account and among other things, the report said, a number of functions of other staff/departments were usurped by Sattaur and Goolsarran. Both Sattaur and Goolsarran had declined to speak when contacted by Stabroek News.

Colwyn Harding on violent robbery charge

- granted $75,000 bail

Colwyn Harding, who filed a hefty lawsuit against the State for alleged torture and constitutional infringements earlier

Accused: Colwyn Harding

this year, appeared yesterday before a senior city Magistrate to face a violent robbery charge for allegedly mugging a woman in front of a popular city store last week.
Harding was charged with violently robbing Cheryl Ann Hope of $30,000 cash and three Samsung Galaxy S5 smartphones costing $360,000 at Hadfield Street, last Wednesday.
Before Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, he pleaded not guilty and submitted a bail application through his lawyer, Nigel Hughes.
Recapping the incident which led to the charge, Police Prosecutor, Corporal Bharat Mangru explained that Harding and the alleged virtual complainant are acquainted with each other. He said that on the day in question the alleged victim was standing in front of Ashmin’s Store on Hadfield Street when a white car drove by and Harding exited, armed with a cutlass.
The Prosecution claimed that Harding attacked the woman, and dealt her several chops to her hand. As Hope fell, Harding reportedly relieved her of the cash and phones before fleeing the scene.
The court was told that Harding managed to evade the police for days but had later surrendered in the company of his attorney and was subsequently released on station bail.
Objecting to bail, Mangru asked the court to note that the likelihood of Harding tampering with the woman exists, since the two are affiliated.
He also based his objections on the fact that Harding had attempted to evade the police, and stated that he is a flight risk who would not return to face the charge instituted against him.
Applying for bail, Hughes stated that his client was released on station bail and had at no point tried to interfere with Hope. He said too that there are three persons who could verify Harding’s whereabouts at the time of the alleged incident.
The lawyer related that Hope’s co-worker stated that the person who committed the robbery had on a mask, and argued that the police could not point to his client.
The Chief Magistrate granted the defence’s application and Harding was released on bail in the sum of $75,000. The case is set to be called again on August 5.

Charlestown teen jailed for 56 months for armed robbery

Charlestown teen, Ron Collins was yesterday sentenced to 56 months imprisonment after pleaded guilty to armed robbery.

Collins had first ap-peared before Chief Magis-trate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry where he pleaded not guilty

Ron Collins

to robbing Holly Culpepper of $166,000 in items which were recovered on his person by police ranks. The matter was then transferred to Court Three where Collins changed his plea to guilty before Magistrate Judy Latchman.

According to the magistrate, the sentence was given after the court took into consideration the seriousness of the offence, the fact that Collins is only 19 as well as the fact that the young man worked as a plumber. However, Magistrate Latchman also noted that the court considered the fact that there has been an increase in armed robberies.

Imposing sentence, the magistrate said she hopes Collins will follow a straighter path in life.

Collins,19, of Lot 6 Ketley Street, Charlestown was first charged on April 7, after he was accused of robbing Culpepper at knife point of her BlackBerry cellular phone, Guess shades, handbag and cash. It was related to the court that Culpepper was walking out of Ramroop’s Furniture Store when she felt someone tugging on her bag. When she looked behind her, she saw Collins holding her handbag in his right hand, while in his left hand he held a knife. She immediately released the bag but as Collins attempted to escape on his bicycle, police ranks from Eve Leary, who were in a bus and had seen the robbery, opened the bus door on Collins causing him to fall. The items were recovered and Collins was taken to Ruimveldt Police station where he was arrested.

Investigation into Lusignan teen slaying still ‘active’ – Crime Chief

Police are still to make an arrest in the murder of Lusignan teenager Ashmini Harriram and according to Crime Chief Leslie James it is “an active investigation”.

Updating the media last evening James said “we are working with what we have at the moment…we will always investigate thoroughly.”

Asked if it was a robbery, he said they are investigating the initial report they received. The initial

Relatives and mourers at the funeral service for 18-year-old Ashmini Harriram who was shot dead last Thursday shortly after her $15,000 cell phone was snatched from her hand. The service was held at her home following which she was cremated at Good Hope. Seated in this photo are her mother Khemwattie Samaroo and her two sisters.

report was that the gunman first snatched Harriram’s cellular phone before shooting her in the head.

According to James, as information becomes available to the police, they will investigate.

The 18-year-old cosmetologist was close to her Lusignan Railway Embankment, East Coast Demerara home when she was shot.

Her cousin Fiona Samaroo, who was with her at the time, said they were walking along the roadway when a man exited a car with a gun, walked straight up to Harriram and grabbed the phone and shot her. Samaroo said she was unclear how many other persons were in the car as she only saw the gunman, who was holding a “small gun.” She said she was so shocked that she didn’t pay much attention to the man or the car as it drove off.

She said after Harriram was shot she was bleeding so much that she was unable to determine which part of her face the bullet had struck.

An eyewitness had recounted that as the two young woman were walking on the roadway, a burgundy car drove pass and stopped a short distance away. As they approached the vehicle a man came out of the front passenger side and walked straight up the teen. The eyewitness said the man snatched the phone Harriram was holding to her ear before walking back to the car. However, he turned back took three steps, placed a gun under her chin and pulled the trigger.

Relatives have since told this newspaper that while it is unclear what the motive was, they knew she had no problems with anyone which could have resulted in such a cruel death.

Sawmill supervisor’s murder…Prosecution closes case in PI

State witnesses have finished giving evidence at the Preliminary Inquiry (PI) of the man accused of killing a 22-year-old sawmill supervisor, whose body was found at Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara, over a year ago.

Murder Accused: Raymond Tyson

Raymond Shawn Tyson, 28, is accused of murdering Kemraj Singh at Land of Canaan, East Bank Demerara between May 27 and May 28, last year.
Singh’s body was reportedly found lying on a bed in a shack at his employer’s sawmill. His throat had a gaping wound and he had been struck repeatedly to the head.
The Prosecution had related at the first arraignment that Singh’s death had stemmed from previous grudges, and that Singh’s employer had discovered that the victim’s BlackBerry cellular phone had been stolen.
The phone’s internet service was activated and contact was made with a male. However, it was later discovered that the accused was in possession of the said cellular phone, as his ex-reputed wife saw him with the said phone on May 28, 2013.
Tyson had allegedly pawned the BlackBerry to the woman’s sister, who reportedly gave the instrument to her husband. The cellular phone was subsequently retrieved and the accused was arrested, but when questioned, Tyson refused to divulge how he came to be in possession of the phone.
When confronted by investigators he had denied killing Singh.
It was after the file was sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for advice that the murder charge was instituted against Tyson.
The last witness to appear in court yesterday as the Preliminary Inquiry (PI) continued was Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Communications Officer Liz Rahaman, who stated that she had sent out radio messages at the Police Prosecutor Inspector Michael Grant’s behest for absent witnesses.
A total of 22 witnesses were slated to give evidence during the (PI) before Magistrate Judy Latchman at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court.
Photos and other pieces of evidence have already been tendered as evidence.
Following Rahaman’s testimony yesterday, the Prosecution moved to close its case, having made several attempts to contact witnesses prior to the hearing yesterday.
Attorney-at-Law Kendaise Rodney, who represented the accused, is set to make submissions on July 4.

OP staffer for court on theft charges

Azeem Khan (L) with Dr. Luncheon

Azeem Khan, an assistant to Cabinet Secretary, Dr. Roger Luncheon, and a staff member at the Office of the President (OP) should be heading to the court today.
Khan, who was in police custody at the Kitty Police Station up to last night, is accused of stealing items worth in excess of $1M from a general store some time last week.
According to information received, the R & D Variety Store owned by Rudolph Dyal is attached to the OP staffer’s apartment. It is believed that Khan entered the store through a connecting door several times last week and removed the items.
One police rank claimed that the young man had “gone shopping after hours”.
He was arrested on Monday after he failed to repay Dyal for the articles or to return them.
In the absence of Kwame McCoy, Khan would assist Dr. Luncheon during his weekly press conferences.

Orphanage proprietor refutes claims that young boys sodomised

FOLLOWING allegations that a former teen resident of the Berbice Anjuman Orphanage in Philadelphia Street, New Amsterdam had been sodomized, five minors have been taken into protective custody after it was alleged that they had also been sexually violated.

The boys, aged between ten and six, were allegedly forced to perform oral sex on one of their caregivers at the orphanage; and the man accused of committing the dastardly act on the minors has since been placed on $100,000 station bail, after he had been detained by police for several days.

An investigation has since been launched into the reports, and the file containing the alleged victims’ statements has been forwarded to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution for perusal.

In the meanwhile, owner of the orphanage, Mr. Abu Bakkar Mandal, has refuted ‘allegations’ peddled in some sections of the media that a child had been sodomized at the orphanage.

The Canadian citizen has also claimed to be unaware of the reasons why officials from the Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA) took custody of the five boys, who are all under ten years old.
Mandal invited sections of the print media at the Orphanage in order to ‘clear the air’, after the June 5 edition of the Kaieteur News had published the article under the caption, “Students flee New Amsterdam Orphanage, claim sexual assault.’

The apparently disturbed Mandal said one of his charges named Akash had raised allegations of being sexually molested, “but that is not true”, he emphasized.

“After (Akash) had left the orphanage, he subsequently returned on May 23, last with a female plainclothes police officer. He was asked to identify where the incident occurred, and he pointed to a spot beside his bed. He was asked at what time the incident occurred, and he responded 7pm. He was asked if he liked it, and he responded no. He was then asked by the officer if Mr. Deen [the Manager] was on his back, and he responded ‘no’.

According to Mandal, the teen claimed to have been asleep during the assault, and confessed to not being violated by the manager.
However, following that confrontation, which was held in the presence of other officials within the orphanage, Mandal said he decided to hold a personal investigation into the matter, and discovered that ‘Akash’ had not been at the institution on the date of the alleged assault.

“Akash was to be the Muezzin who was scheduled to do the Azan (prayer), but he did not, and instead I heard another child saying the prayers, and on inquiring I was told that Akash left the compound and headed in an eastern direction with a red bicycle.

“A few days later, his step father came and reported that someone had beaten Akash. At no time did he say the child was sexually molested.

“On May 27, his mother Surajdai Premraj came and collected a younger sister who was also staying here. When she signed for the children’s release, she did not make any allegation of sexual misconduct. I was very surprised when I saw the article in the Kaieteur News. No one came to investigate; they just took out some pictures and wrote the story.

“I am aware that (there is) a medical report which supports the allegations, but it did not happen here, it happened somewhere else….”
A report from the Vryman’s Erven Secondary School, where the teen is a student, revealed that the teen has behavioural problems. The student has very poor cognitive ability, and cannot cope with classroom teaching.

Additionally, it was noted that the student is always mentally preoccupied and confused during contact sessions, and exhibits qualities of an introvert. He can be violent when provoked.

However, it was recommended that the teen needed to be taught the basic concept using pictures and colours, and should be encouraged to socialize, the report concluded.

Responding to questions posed by this reporter, Mandal said he drove to the Special Needs School in New Amsterdam on May 28, accompanied by the secretary. He said he drove to where he had intended to uplift two students of that institution, but after some delay, he was informed by a teacher that officials from the welfare department had taken them into custody.

“No one had informed the Orphanage. We subsequently made searches, but came up empty-handed. I then left to pick up students from the St Aloysius Primary School. During this period I received a call on my mobile phone, informing me to visit the Office of the Child Care and Protection Agency in New Amsterdam. On visiting, I was told that three additional children are in protective care.

‘I was then told why the children were in protective custody. I was told that ‘Akash’ made some allegations against the manager’.

“Nevertheless, despite the allegations, I and my manager are willing to submit ourselves to an polygraph test to prove our innocence’, he concluded.

A source close to the investigation informed this reporter that the police file is currently gaining the attention of the Director of Public Prosecution .
However, the source denied that the alleged victim was questioned in the presence of the staff of the orphanage. Instead, the teen was asked to identify the area where he was sexually violated, and ‘he pointed to the second bed’ the source emphasized’.

Currently the alleged perpetrator is on $100,000 station bail, after being detained for seventy-two hours

In addition, this newspaper was reliably informed that the five boys who were taken from two schools within the New Amsterdam environs were confirmed to have been sexually violated.

The under-aged boys reported that the named manager forced them to have oral sex with him. The alleged victims have since been taken into protective custody and are currently out of the jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, a senior official from one of the schools observed that her charges were “once happy and extraverted children, but since the alleged incident, one has become withdrawn’

(By Jeune Bailey-Vankeric)

Drunken driver slapped with 10 charges

–after death of three victims

MOTORIST Nakesh Persaud appeared at the Springlands Magistrate’s Court to answer to ten traffic violation charges, including three counts of causing death by dangerous driving.He was not required to plead to the charges, which stemmed from an accident on Wednesday, June 11, at Phillipi Village, Corentyne.

Persaud, called Romel and ‘Fat Boy’, allegedly caused the death of 19-year-old Tabitha Bagot; her sister Wanita, aged 17 years; and their three-year-old niece Shamaine Cort.

Police have instituted three counts each of failing to render assistance and failing to stop after an accident, and one count of driving under the influence of alcohol.

At the Court, former Magistrate Mr Krishendat Persaud held the brief for Attorney-at-law Rodwel Jugmohan, while the case was prosecuted by Police Corporal Althea Soloman.

Presiding Magistrate Rabindranauth Singh upheld the prosecution’s objection to bail and remanded the defendant to the New Amsterdam Prison until July 2.

Minister Webster expresses sympathy to the Bagot family

Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Ms. Jennifer Webster, speaking to the Bagot sisters’ sibling Malkia Bagot. Also in picture are Deputy Permanent Secretary of the Ministry, Mr. Patrick Findlay; Probation Officer in Region 6, Mrs. Claudia Munroe and the girls’ cousin Ms. Renata Joseph.

Human Services and Social Security Minister, Ms. Jennifer Webster, yesterday, visited the home of the Bagot’s family members who were killed on Wednesday evening when they were hit by a car on the Corentyne Highway.

The dead girls’ brother recounts the tragedy to the minister and DPS at the scene.

Minister Webster expressed sympathy on behalf of herself and the Government of Guyana to the relatives of sisters Tabithia Latoya Bagot, 19, and Wanita Bagot, 16 and their three-year-old niece, Shemaine Cort. She noted that it is indeed a tragic blow for the family to have lost three at one time in such a terrible way.
At the home, the relatives said that the mother of the two older girls is preparing to return to Guyana from New York, where she emigrated only two weeks ago.
The three girls were killed after a reportedly speeding motor car hit them from behind a few houses away from their Philippi, Corentyne home. At the time they were returning from a nearby shop. The sisters have five other remaining siblings. The younger sister should have written her final CSEC subject yesterday. The three-year-old child was their brother’s daughter.
Post-mortem examinations were performed yesterday and the funeral is scheduled for next week.

 

 

 

 

Police brutality at Sparendaam…Justice Kennard to make recommendations

After facing flak for the lengthy delays in investigating two previous incidents of police

Junior Thornton

brutality, the Guyana Police Force has announced that they have completed investigations into an allegation made by Junior Thornton.
The investigation, which probed the alleged burning of Thornton’s hands while he was in police custody at the Sparendaam Police Station, was conducted by the Police Office of Professional Responsibility (OPR).
According to the police, the file in this matter was submitted to the Chairman of the Police Complaints Authority on Monday, for his review and recommendations.
Thornton’s situation was highlighted, last week Tuesday, one week after he was released from police custody.
The young man, who was recently discharged from hospital, is claiming that a police rank soaked his hands in methylated spirits and set them alight. This was after he was engaged in a fight with another prisoner in the lock-ups.
Kaieteur News understands that Thornton was picked up for loitering earlier last week and was held in the lock-ups for three days. It is alleged that he began behaving in a disorderly manner in the lock-ups and refused to desist when asked to do so by the ranks on duty.
He told relatives that the ranks became angry and one of them saturated his hands with the flammable liquid before setting fire to it.
Thornton was released with his badly burnt hands and was immediately taken to the hospital by his relatives. They subsequently reported the matter to the Police Complaints Authority, after which the investigation was ordered.
Already, an Assistant Superintendent has been transferred as a result of the fallout over the incident, while the ranks who allegedly carried out the act were under close arrest up to yesterday.
It is expected that in addition to possible criminal charges, several other ranks will face disciplinary action over the incident.