67 to stand trial as Berbice Assizes criminal session opens
The Berbice Assizes February session opened on Thursday with the traditional march pass and inspection of the Guard of Honour but more importantly, with the announcement that sixty-seven persons are listed to have their trial heard.
Justice Brassington Reynolds will preside over the Assizes. Of the sixty-seven persons to stand trial, seven persons were indicted for murder.
The seven accused – Winston Benjamin, Lincoln Odell, Viay Rickbarran, Mark Edwards, Rafiek Nazanadeen, and Leonard Allen have all indicated their intentions to plead to the lesser count of manslaughter.
The February session is expected to run until June. The first case to be called is that of 38-year-old Wilbert Alphanso of Rose Hall Town, Corentyne.
He faces one count of rape of a girl under the age of 16 and one count of sexual penetration of a girl under the age of sixteen. The acts were allegedly committed between July and October 2016.
Alphanso objected to five members of the jury claiming that they knew him personally. Attorney-at-law Charlene Artiga is representing Alphanso while the State’s case is being presented by Attorney-at-law Mondale Moore.
Alphanso pleaded not guilty to the charge. The prosecution will call its first witness on Wednesday next when the matter continues.
Meanwhile, awaiting trial at the New Amsterdam Prison are sixty-eight males and two females who are listed to stand trial for murder. Four are down for attempted murder, one for sexual penetration, one for rape and one for unlawful malicious wounding.
Two persons have been in the prison awaiting trial for the past four years while one man has been there for over five years. He was committed to stand trial for murder. 55 others have been incarcerated for less than a year.
Of those in the prison awaiting trial for murder, ten are between the ages of 17 and 20 years old. Meanwhile, Justice Reynolds said he hopes to get through a significant number of the cases which are pending.