UG student accused of issuing bomb threats freed

Freed: Sheneza Jafarally

Sheneza Jafarally, the 26-year-old woman who was accused of issuing a bomb threat to the University of Guyana (UG), where she is a student, was freed of the charge on Monday by Magistrate Rushelle Liverpool.
The magistrate, presiding at the Sparendaam Magistrates’ Courts, upheld a submission of no case to answer made by Jaffarally’s lawyer Latchmie Rahamat.
In an invited comment, the lawyer told Guyana Times “[The prosecution] could not prove the main ingredients of the offence and the most important element; that is, they could not prove that my client ever sent such a message.”
The charge against her had stated that on February 5, 2019, at Cummings Lodge, Greater Georgetown, she sent, by means of a public telecommunication device system, for the purpose of causing needless anxiety to the staff and students of UG, a message which she knew to be false.
The charge was instituted pursuant to the Telecommunications Act. She had initially pleaded not guilty to the charge and was placed on $10,000 bail by the High Court.
Reacting to the court’s ruling, a relieved Jafarally said: “It has caused me great psychological trauma. I have not been able to attend school as yet. And that is not because I am not allowed to attend, but because I am so afraid because of the situation I was put in. I have been going to therapy for the past year. I don’t think another person should have to go through something like this because of negligence, because of people [the Police] not investigating properly.”
According to her lawyer, the prosecution failed to lead evidence to support the particulars of the charge, and to show that her client sent any message to cause public anxiety using a public telecommunication system. The lawyer said also that the prosecution led no evidence to disclose the contents of the message, for the court to consider whether it caused public anxiety.
She said the prosecution also failed to prove, as prescribed by the Act, that a public telecommunication system was used to send the message. Moreover, Rahamat expressed that the entire case has caused her client public humiliation.
“We are happy that it has finally come to an end. From the beginning, we had maintained that there was no evidence.”
It was reported that on February 5, 2019, a number of threats were sent to several online news outlets, which were promptly reported to the Police. UG had been placed on lock-down owing to the bomb scare. As a result, the gates to the tertiary educational institution were briefly locked, but were reopened once the Police and other officials had given the green light.
In the threat message, the alleged sender, ‘Jack Ryan’, stated: “I have placed 20 bombs across the University of Guyana campus, which are hidden from plain sight. Attached to this bomb is a timer which can be remotely activated/deactivated”.
It was reported that the sender also uploaded an image of the alleged handmade explosive devices and had also stated that the timer was set for eight hours before detonation.
“The bombs will be activated at exactly 15:00h, unless my demands are met,” ‘Ryan’ continued. In a subsequent message, he related that students must leave the campus, after which he would make his demands.
However, the Police conducted an investigation after no explosives were found on campus, and that led to Jafarally being arrested at her workplace.