Charges dropped against Sophia victims

Police say new charges to be filed

the unlawful firearm possession charges filed against victims of the Elections Day unrest in C Field Sophia, Greater Georgetown, Guyana, Bibi Farida Prasad and Narine Khublall were dropped on Thursday when the two neighbours appeared before the court.

Prasad, of Lot 589 Section C South Turkeyen, Sophia, and Khublall along with his wife Poonadai of Lot 588, appeared, as instructed by the Police, before Magistrate Zamilla Ally-Seepaul at the Sparendaam Magistrate’s Court to answer separate charges of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunition without being the

A vehicle on fire in May 2015
A vehicle on fire in May 2015

holders of licences.

They were represented by Attorney Anil Nandlall, Priya Manickchand and Euclin Gomes. When the matter was called up, the Prosecutor informed the court that the charges were wrongly prepared, hence he withdrew them.

However, the Prosecution indicated that the charges will be corrected and be reinstituted within 30 minutes. Some 40 minutes later, the police delivered new charges to the presiding Magistrate, who found they were not filed with the court.

The Magistrate subsequently indicated to the court that the new charges are not yet filed and she will not permit them to be filed and read the same day to the defendants. She then informed Prasad and Khublall that they were free to leave and that the Police will have to file the charges and summon them to court at a later date.

On Tuesday, the two neighbours were summoned to the Sparendaam Police Station where they were told that based on advice from the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP), they will be charged with the offence of unlawful possession of firearms and ammunitions as of May 11, 2015, and will have to appear before the Court.

However, Prasad is and has been licenced to possess a .32 firearm handgun since 1998 while Khooblall is a member of South Turkeyen Community Policing Group, the Chairman of Division C “2” of Community Policing and also the Vice-Chairman of the National Community Policing of Guyana. The man has held these positionsKhublall (CLEAN) for a number of years and by virtue, is authorised and licenced to possess a shotgun.

The homes of the Prasads and Khublalls were stormed, vandalised, looted and their vehicles burnt by a large unruly mob who claimed to be supporters of the A Partnership for National Unity+Alliance For Change (APNU+AFC) Coalition on the night of May 11, 2015.

That said night, the Police had instructed the two neighbours to surrender their respective firearms and ammunition as well as copies of their firearm licences which were duly done. However, while the police returned Prasad’s weapon the following day, Khooblall’s CPG weapon was kept by the State.

According to their attorney, Nandlall, this matter is becoming stranger with every passing day. He pointed out that after an entire year without anyone informing these persons that they were ever suspected of possessing firearms and ammunition without licences, even though they were in regular contact with the Police, suddenly criminal charges are sprung against them for allegedly possessing firearms and ammunitions without licences.

In fact he noted that after an entire year, the Police still could not get the charges right. Nandlall went on to highlight that there is a great sloth in prosecuting the charges which have been laid against persons who stolePrasad (CLEAN) and destroyed those people’s property on May 11, 2015.

“My clients’ only wrong, is that they permitted their premises to be used by the PPP [People’s Progressive Party] for the 2015 Elections. It is difficult to believe that after one year the Police, and moreso the DPP, will make such elementary errors with the charges,” the lawyer noted.

He further posited that this situation is nothing short of lawlessness and that the criminal justice process being used to politically victimise and harass his clients, will be only a matter of time before this farce is unmasked.

Nandlall had indicated his intention to sue the State for the damage and losses which his clients suffered on May 11 last year, due to the negligence of the Guyana Police Force since his clients were taken into police custody that night and were told that their properties were under “Police Protection”. However, upon their return home several days later, they found that their homes were broken into and burglarised.