November 24, 2014

Glenn Lall to make separate court appearances today

– to answer to tax fraud, threatening language charges

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall, his wife Bhena Lall, the owner of Bhena’s Footwear and remigrant couple Naroontandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanan are expected to make an appearance in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Courts today.

The four are charged with attempting to defraud the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA) and by extension the State of over $100 million in taxes payable on the import of two vehicles from the US.

GRA Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur

GRA Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

Kaieteur News Publisher Glenn Lall

On Monday, October 13, all four individuals were charged with tax fraud at the Georgetown Magistrate’s Courts; however, the Brijnanan’s were not present for the first court hearing.
Lead defence Attorney for the four alleged fraudsters, Khemraj Ramjattan had said that they would be present at the next court hearing, which is this morning.
Lall on Friday was also charged for allegedly making threats to GRA Commissioner General Khurshid Sattaur and will also appear before the Sparendaam Magistrate’s to answer to that charge.

Following the threat, the GRA Commissioner General had told Guyana Times that he is fearful for his life as Lall had killed a man before.
Sattaur was referring to the murder of Kenny France some 20 years ago. It was reportedly the most egregious example of vigilante murder in McDoom.
Despite committing the murder, no sanction was brought against Lall, and the action seems to have set in train a pattern of excesses by Lall that continue to this day with the latest charge of tax fraud.

The GRA is claiming that remigrants Narootandeo and Gharbassi Brijnanan of Number 61 Village, Corentyne, Berbice, had imported two Lexus LX 570 motor vehicles into Guyana; however, the two vehicles were not kept or used by the remigrants.
This is in breach of the Customs Act and the conditions of the grant of the duty-free concession.

Driven by the Lalls
The GRA said investigations have revealed that the vehicles are being driven by the Publisher of Kaieteur News Mohan Lall called “Glenn Lall” and his wife Bhena Lall. The Authority has since seized the vehicles and filed six criminal charges against the four persons.

The four persons were charged with two joint counts of knowingly committing fraudulent evasion of import duties. The charges read by Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry stated that between June 18, 2013 and September 21, 2013, together with others unknown at Lot 200-201 Camp Street, Georgetown, they knowingly aided and abetted each other, in the fraudulent evasion of import duties of customs due and payable to the Revenue Authority on one Lexus LX 570 motor vehicle registration number PRR 8398 with engine capacity 5700 cc, Chassis number JTJHY7AX6 D4094851 and number JTJHY7AX6 D4096745.

The Lalls were charged jointly with two counts of knowingly dealt with goods with intent to defraud the revenue of duties on the said motor vehicle.
The particulars of the offence read that between June 18, 2013 and August 30, 2014, at Lot 110 Regent Street, Charlestown, Georgetown, they knowingly dealt with goods with intent to defraud the revenue of duties on one Lexus LX 570 motor vehicle bearing registration number PRR 8399 with engine capacity 5700 cc, Chassis number JTJHY7AX6 D4094851 and number JTJHY7AX6 D4096745.

Additionally, the Brijnanans were jointly charged with the offences of making and subscribing to a false declaration.
The charges alleged that between June 18, 2013 and September 20, 2013, at Lot 200-201 Camp Street, Georgetown, Demerara, a place in the Georgetown Magisterial District, they made and subscribed to false declarations on one Lexus LX 570 motor vehicle with engine capacity 5700 cc, Chassis number JTJHY7AX6 D4096745 to be US$44,158.00 and one Lexus LX 570 motor vehicle with engine capacity 5700 cc, Chassis number JTJHY7AX6 D4094851 to be US$44,158.00, contrary to Section 217(1)(a) of the Customs Act Chapter 82:01.

The other defence Attorneys were named as Nigel Hughes, Joseph Harmon, Christopher Ram, Rex McKay, Bettina Glasford, Brenden Glasford and Robin Hunte.
Before and after the last court hearing, Lall and his wife waved and smiled to a small crowd, comprising mainly the regular fringe elements in society who are often seen in the company of the newspaper publisher.

In the past, Lall has often been known to pay these elements to turn up as a public display to show that he has broad-based support in the community. But it all appeared to be a sham, as Lall has used various bullying tactics to desperately avoid a court case. These persons are expected to show up with him again in court today.

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Women urged to become vocal members of society

Kowsilla also known as “Alice”

Kowsilla also known as “Alice”

– at remembrance of martyred Kowsilla

Guyanese women were urged to stand up and speak out for their rights as the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) remembers Kowsilla, a mother of four who was ran over by a tractor during a protest against the British plantocracy five decades ago.

The Women Progressive Organisation (WPO), along with the PPP/C on Sunday remembered the sacrifices of Kowsilla at the Leonora Secondary School, West Coast Demerara.

Kowsilla, 44, known as “Alice” was killed on March 6, 1964, when her body was severed in two by Felix Barr, who drove a tractor through her. She was the sole breadwinner of her family.

Addressing the gathering at Leonora on Sunday, WPO General Secretary Gail Teixeira said that looking back at the history of Guyana; women have played and continue to play an important role in the struggle for independence and rights for all Guyanese.

She noted that while not every woman can be a Kowsilla, they can definitely make a change, but will have to continue the struggle.

A section of the gathering at the event to remember Kowsilla’s sacrifice

A section of the gathering at the event to remember Kowsilla’s sacrifice

“You got to stand up and open your mouth. Stop hiding, you’ve got to be out there, don’t hide yourself. We have to be proud of us as Guyanese women because the change in Guyana came about through the struggle for democracy, the struggle which changed our Constitution and created equality and the struggle today to make sure that we don’t so backwards and keep on going forward,” she stated.

Teixeira went on to talk about the strides women in Guyana have made over the years since the days of Kowsilla, such as being owners of properties, having sound a education and being in politics, among others.

Bravery

WPO General Secretary Gail Teixeira addressing the gathering

WPO General Secretary Gail Teixeira addressing the gathering

Meanwhile, PPP/C General Secretary Clement Rohee said that not a lot of people know about the struggles of women such as Kowsilla. He noted that Kowsilla was an ordinary woman but she stood out because of her bravery to challenge the plantation rulers. Rohee added that her sacrifice contributed to the struggles of sugar workers and eventually to the development of unions, political parties and the country as a whole.

“Things have indeed changed since the days of Kowsilla and it was a result of her contributions that we are enjoying today what we’re enjoying. The condition of working women today, compared to the conditions of the working women when Kowsilla was alive, is like comparing mangoes with tangerines. Working women today have much better conditions than Kowsilla had,” Rohee said.

This sentiment was reiterated by the representatives from the Guyana Agricultural and General Workers Union (GAWU) and the Rice Producers Association, who pointed out that the sacrifices of Kowsilla paved the way for better working conditions for all categories of workers across the country and recognition of GAWU.

Kowsilla was an Executive of the Leonora branch of the WPO. At the time, there were countrywide industrial protests, demanding recognition of GAWU by the Sugar Producers’ Association.

Kowsilla, along with other men and women who were mostly estate workers gathered at the High Bridge, leading to the Leonora Sugar Estate, where they sat forming a human barricade in protest against inadequate wages and inadequate working conditions.

Their actions prevented some scabs from entering the estate to work and based on instructions, one of them drove a tractor on the bridge, causing several persons to jump off into the punt trench while 14 of them who held their ground were injured.

Kowsilla and two other women who were severely injured were rushed to the Georgetown Public Hospital Corporation, but she died on her way there.

The two other women Jagdai and Daisy Sookram survived the incident but suffered broken spines and were crippled for life.

The driver of the tractor Felix Barr was charged but was subsequently acquitted of the murderous act.

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Man found dead in CJIA reservoir

An electrician attached to the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) Maintenance Section was on Sunday afternoon found dead in a reservoir in the Civil Aviation Compound, Timehri, East Bank Demerara.

The dead man was identified as Chris Andrew Jacob, 26, of Haurauni, Soesdyke/Linden Highway. According to reports received, the man was found about 13:45h on Sunday, but went missing since Saturday afternoon after work.

Chris Jacob

Chris Jacob

There was reportedly no mark of violence on his body, and as such, Chris is suspected to have drowned. His father Jagat Jacob in a telephone interview told Guyana Times that his son left for work on Saturday morning, but after work he reportedly went and “hang out” with some friends.

He said about 02:00h on Sunday morning, he woke up and did not see his son. This, he said made him get worried since it was unusual occurrence. At about 05:30h, he received a call from his son’s Supervisor enquiring about his whereabouts.

The distraught father explained that from information gathered, he was made to understand that there was an issue at the airport involving his son.

Guyana Times understands that the members of the internal security at the airport could not handle the situation and called on members of the Guyana Police Force to intervene.

It was this time that the young man escaped and was not seen since until his body was discovered. He was reportedly under the influence of alcohol.

The father went on to say that he contacted his son’s Supervisor about 12:00h on Sunday and up to that time, he was still missing. He said while on his way to Georgetown, he received another call informing him that they had found his son’s body in the reservoir.

He immediately rushed to the airport where he saw the lifeless body.

The distressed man stated that his son’s wallet and phone and other personal belonging were intact. The Police have since launched an investigation into the matter.

A colleague with whom the young man worked told Guyana Times that he was out with some relatives when he received the devastating news. He said Chris was a jovial and hard working colleague. He noted that the young man started to work in the Maintenance Department about five years ago, and was promoted to the rank of Electrician.

Chris, he stated was a very polite and well disciplined individual and was not sure what might have been the contributing factors to his death.

The young man attended the Haurauni Secondary School where he wrote the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CXC) and went on to study Electrical Engineering at the

Georgetown Technical Institute. He leaves to mourn his parents and two sisters.

His body is at the Lyken’s Funeral Home and is awaiting a post-mortem examination.

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Guyana currently unrated

– some distance away from qualifying for national airline status

As the local aviation sector booms, Guyana is in need of its own national airline, but this is far from becoming a reality due to the fact that there are certain criteria that must be fulfilled.
This is according to Fly Jamaica Director Roxanne Reece, who stated that presently Guyana is unrated on the international aviation chart.
She disclosed that Guyana has moved from Category Two to unrated status a few months ago, noting that the dream of being qualified for national airline status can only be realised when Guyana gets to Category One status.

Fly Jamaica Director Roxanne Reece

Fly Jamaica Director Roxanne Reece

In 1999, she explained that Fly Jamaica set up a company called Wings Aviation with the hope of operating an international route from Guyana due to the fact that Guyana had Category Two status at the time.

She disclosed that only a Category One country can fly to the United States.
“We just couldn’t start the company… it is pending but we are waiting on Guyana to get to that stage for it to become a Category One country,” she reiterated.
While there are certain factors that have to be considered before moving to Category One status, the most important, however is for Guyana to have air traffic regulations that are internationally recognised.

Another aspect, she added is that there must be trained and adequate human resources in the Civil Aviation Department.
However, she boasted that Fly Jamaica is the National Carrier for Jamaica. A Guyana Civil Aviation Authority official when contacted for a comment explained that the different airports are managed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) rules and regulations.

He posited that for an airport to gain Category One status is highly dependent on how developed the local aviation section is with respect to security, documentations and more importantly human resources.

The human resources, he noted include persons to perform flight and other critical inspections. Currently, Guyana does not have these in place, but is using a Jamaican company to assist in this regard.

Other important factors which have contributed to the unrated status include the fact that illegal drugs continue to be shipped out of Guyana on a regular basis.
In addition, the official stated that the current infrastructure might have also contributed to Guyana’s unrated status.
The Airport Expansion Project, once completely will see Guyana heading for Category One status.

The first national airline was Guyana Airways which operated from 1939 to 2001. During this period, it operated at destinations throughout the Caribbean, the US and Canada. It was declared insolvent in 2001. After the airline went bankrupt in 2001, its successor, Guyana Air 2000 maintained a short-lived operation until 2003, when it also filed for insolvency.
Guyana gave flagship status to Caribbean Airlines a few years ago.

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Wakenaam farmer dies in accident

The state of the motorcycle belonging to Shailindra Rambajue after the accident

The state of the motorcycle belonging to Shailindra Rambajue after the accident

A Wakenaam family is mourning the death of a young rice farmer who lost his life tragically after riding into a parked lumber truck on Saturday night. The incident occurred on Wakenaam, Region Three (Essequibo Island-West Demerara).

Dead is Shailindra Rambajue, 38, also known as “Fatso” and “Redeye” of Ridge, Wakenaam.

The father of two reportedly lost control of his motorcycle and crashed into a parked lumber truck next to a sawmill. Based on reports, he suffered injuries mostly to the head and arms.

Rambajue, who is well known on the Island, was picked up by residents and rushed to the Wakenaam Cottage Hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival.

An eyewitness told Guyana Times that the farmer was “bleeding from the head; his hands had broken and blood was oozing from various part of his body”.

Rambajue was described as a very loving and co-operative individual. He leaves to mourn his wife and two children. His body is at the Wakenaam Cottage Mortuary awaiting post-mortem examination.

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PNC hiding from past under APNU – Ali Baksh

Minister within the Agriculture Ministry, Ali Baksh speaking at a meet at Success, Wakenaam, Region Three (Essequibo Island-West Demerara)

Minister within the Agriculture Ministry, Ali Baksh speaking at a meet at Success, Wakenaam, Region Three (Essequibo Island-West Demerara)

By Indrawattie Natram

Minister within the Agriculture Ministry, Ali Baksh said A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) is the old People’s National Congress (PNC) in disguise and the Alliance For Change (AFC) is no different.

Addressing Wakenaam residents at separate meetings at Success and Marias Pleasure, Region Three (Essequibo Islands-West Demerara) on Saturday, Baksh said both political parties are against the People’s Progressive Party/Civic (PPP/C) Government, but unfortunately to stop development.

The Minister urged residents to continue to support the PPP/C, noting that Guyana might soon be going to the polls.

Baksh said the PPP/C was proud of the developments on the island, the majority of which has been achieved under its watch.

Minister Baksh reminded residents that during the dark days of the PNC, the roads on the island were in a terrible state.

He said residents had many “early nights” as there was no electricity, coupled with no telephone services, poor access to water and rundown education and health sectors.

The Minister, who was a former Region Two (Pomeroon-Supenaam) Chairman said gone were those days, noting that Wakenaam was assuming its rightful place in Guyana, performing well in a number of sectors.

He said the island has been producing a number of intelligent young men and women.

“Young people who leave the island to go further their studies are returning to further develop the island, this is because of the many opportunities we, the PPP, has exposed them too,” Baksh said.

He said too that he was more than impressed whenever he drove around the small agricultural island and noticed the tremendous transformation in the landscape with the erection of many modern houses.

The Minister told residents that since the PPP/C took office in 1992, there was a sparkle of light, a light that created opportunities, development and progress throughout every region in Guyana.

He reminded residents that the same old PNC, now disguised as APNU, had destroyed the country during its 28 years of “plunder”, during which human rights abuse, starvation and rigged elections were a central feature.

According to Minister Baksh, then Finance Minister of the PNC Government, Carl Greenidge had said the finance barrel was scraped till it “bore”.

“During PNC days, we had no bread, flour was banned along with split peas, potatoes, sardines and other basic food items, including soap; people suffered, they had to find alternative – grind black eye to make dhal. If we were caught with any of the banned items, such as a loaf of bread, a tin of sardine or any of the banned items, we were charged and jailed; I faced all this,” Baksh related.

At the end of the meeting, residents interacted and raised issues that affect them. The Minister was accompanied by Region Two Vice Chairman Vishnu Samaroo and PPP/C organisers of Wakenaam Island, Zakir Khan and Mustak Mohammed.

Health Minister, Dr Bheri Ramsaran also conducted meetings at Ridge and Zeelandia.

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New Amsterdam presents $139M Budget for 2015

Mayor Claude Henry

Mayor Claude Henry

… poor revenue collection hampering operations

The New Amsterdam Municipality has submitted a proposed budget of $139 million for the year 2015 and has promised not to increase property taxes, but to go after defaulting taxpayers in an effort to raise needed funds.

Deputy Mayor Harold Debydeen revealed that some property owners have not paid their taxes for more than 10 years. “We intend to collect all our rates and taxes, which stand at $67 million. Things are going up every day and we do not have any duty-free concession, we buy our fuel at $215 per litre and we have to buy it in bulk to run the tractors to pick up the solid waste.”

Debydeen’s comments came even before acting Treasurer Verna Newyear presented the proposed budget.

Mayor Claude Henry noted that new measures will be taken to ensure the municipality still receives the money it is owed, even if rates do not come in. “In another week or so, we will embark on … [ a process to get monies from ] persons who are defaulters. It is not a treat, but we need to get the money…”

The Mayor also noted that they will recommence removing signboards which were illegally erected in the township. That project started early in the year, but was put on hold. “We are going to continue that exercise until people come in and pay their fair share to the Municipality.”

A fee of $30,000 is charged to erect a signboard on the municipal’s reserve. Many have erected signs without first contacting the municipality.

During 2015, the NA Municipality proposes to collect $67.2 million as taxes from property owners. This represents 57.7 per cent of what they should collect from the 4184 property owners in the township of which approximately 160 are commercial.

In her maiden budget presentation, Newyear noted that the largest portion of the budget will go to wages. This, she said, represents 39 per cent of the total budget, while 11.3 per cent will go towards maintenance work. In terms of dollar amounts, $15.7 million will be spent throughout the town on maintenance work; there will be no maintenance works on roads in 2015.

The acting Treasurer said the Municipality is expected to collect $8 million from execution of appraisals and an additional sum for the regularisation of squatter communities.

In emphasising the Municipality’s need of revenue, Newyear added that most staffers are receiving the minimum wage of $35,000 monthly.

“There is no increase budgeted due to the meagre sum we usually collect in all our revenue,” she said as she called on all to support the Town Council.

“We need the input most of all from the business community.”

Newyear nonetheless noted that the Municipality should be congratulated for the service it provided, taking into account the amount of taxes it collects to do various works.

Social Care Consultant Paulette Henry, who chaired the proceedings, took the opportunity to call on Government to assist. “While we demand more from the Council, we must raise our voices as citizens because the Municipality cannot operate without the support of Government.”

She said with the small salaries which the Municipality offers, it will not be able to attract quality persons.

Councillor Winifred Haywood, commenting on the issue at the budget presentation, said New Amsterdam was not a stepchild. “The $10 million a year they give us is not enough to run an entire town.”

The Mayor also reiterated the appeal saying that the time has come for Government to give to New Amsterdam, which is the largest town in the country, some of the revenue it collects annually from vehicle operators. According to him, these road users are responsible for most of the damage to the town’s roads.

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Stop the fight and unite for Guyana

TUF Leader Marissa Nadir

TUF Leader Marissa Nadir

The United Force (TUF) is taking a different stand as part of its come back strategy; it is urging the current political parties to unite for the benefit of all Guyanese.

Leader of the party, Attorney Marissa Nadir said “the way they (political parties) going right now, it raises the question of whether they are working for themselves or they are working for the people”.

Nadir and fellow party Executive Member Roy Vantoll said the TUF is willing to work with the other parties for the development of Guyana.

The young Attorney told Guyana Times that all political parties need to work together, exercising their strongest arm for the betterment of Guyana.

“All parties need to accept the past for what it is and at some point, if they really do have the country and the people’s best interest at heart, they will need to decide to work together.”

Vantoll contended that the current state of affairs in Guyana is not conducive to good spirit and is detrimental to business growth, foreign investment and the economy as a whole.

As a result, Nadir felt that there is an urgent need for stability in Guyana. She explained that “it is not about power anymore, the Guyanese people are fed-up about power”.

Vantoll felt that in order to get pass the current political stalemate, a majority Government is needed. He also called for early polls and explained that the Guyana Elections Commission (GECOM) can easily rectify the issues on the Voter’s List. GECOM has recently announced that it will be embarking on the Seventh Cycle of Continuous Registration.

It was recently found out that the Voter’s List has approximately 10,000 persons who are either dead or migrated. The Peoples’ Progressive Party Civic (PPP/C) has since called for the list to be corrected, but the A Partnership for National Unity (APNU) seems not to be bothered by the discrepancies, and is calling for early elections, with the current list.

Persons in some quarters say that the additional 10,000 voters on the list will work in the favour of APNU, in the event General Elections are called.

After being thought of as a dormant party following the loss of its only seat in Parliament during the 2011 elections, Nadir has made it very clear that the party is alive and will be contesting the upcoming elections.

She said the party will be going to the polls alone, noting that members have planned a countrywide campaign. He believes that the TUF chances of doing well are promising.

“Most parties are stuck in the past and the past had less educated people while today we have more educated people.”

He said flooding in the City is also a matter of concern for the TUF. To combat flooding in Georgetown during rainy season, Vantoll said his party plans to bring Dutch officials to strategise a plan for better drainage in the city. He said at present, there are lots of housing schemes, but not enough drainage systems.

He said too that the value for the country needs to be instilled in the citizenry at an early age, and the people need to have a sense of involvement in the decision-making of the country, in order to acquire a sense of belonging. He believes that if people do not feel like they belong to Guyana, they will leave.

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Taxi driver on bail for allegedly raping two school girls

A taxi driver was on Friday placed on bail when he appeared before Magistrate Sherdel Isaacs-Marcus in the New Amsterdam Magistrate’s Court to answer to rape charges.

Leonard Bristol of Number Two Village, Canje is alleged to have committed the offences on two school girls while another matter of a similar nature was receiving the attention of the court.

It is alleged that on September 16 at a house at Edinburgh Village, East Bank, Berbice, he sexually penetrated a 14-year child.

It is also alleged that on next day, at the same house, he committed a similar offence with a girl under the age of 16.

Magistrate Isaacs-Marcus placed the accused on $150,000 bail on each of the two charges and ordered that he does not come within 20 feet of the victims.

She has also ordered that he reports every Friday to Central Police Station in New Amsterdam at 18:00h.

Meanwhile, Bristol is also on $100,000 bail for touching an underage female in a sexual manner. That incident is alleged to have been committed at a house in Palmyra Village on October 20.

On that charge, Bristol was asked to lodge his passport with the court before bail was granted.

The accused will return to court on December 22.

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DPP to challenge Magistrate’s decision

$300 million cocaine case

Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Shalimar Ali-Hack has reportedly filed an appeal at the Appeal Court, Kingston, Georgetown, challenging a decision by a Magistrate to sentence a confessed drug dealer to five years suspended sentence.

Director of Public Prosecution, Shalimar Ali-Hack

Director of Public Prosecution, Shalimar Ali-Hack

Freed drug dealer, Leonard Bacchus

Freed drug dealer, Leonard Bacchus

The decision by Magistrate Alex Moore to send Leonard Bacchus on custodial sentencing has led to public outcry. Bacchus has confessed to trafficking 76 kilograms of cocaine worth $300 million in kunds (a Hindu religious apparatus).

Bacchus was given suspended sentence of two years for being in unlawful possession of 125, 12-guage cartridges and 115, .32 rounds of ammunition, which also stemmed from a raid of his Lot 20 Enmore Housing Scheme, East Coast Demerara home on August 16, 2001.

He was nevertheless fined $2.5 million, but after a plea by the defendant’s lawyer; the Magistrate gave him up to June next to pay.
A senior rank of the Guyana Police Force stated that once the appeal has been filed, it will take some time before the case is heard, noting that presently there are several other cases that will take precedence.

The suspended sentence, he explained means that Bacchus will only go back to jail if he commits another criminal offense over the next five years.

However, he was not sure what would have been the reason for such a sentence to someone who pleaded guilty to narco-possession. This, he noted is a rear occurrence.
Initially, the prosecution team was led by now Police Commissioner Personal Assistant, Superintendent Karim Baksh, but was taken over by Inspector Stephen Telford.
After the prosecution closed it case, a case was made out against Bacchus; hence, the Magistrate ordered that he leads a defence which was led by Attorney James Bond.
During the defence’s rebuttal to the court, Bacchus changed his plea to guilty on both charges. At that time, he was looking at a possible jail time and having to pay a big fine, but the legal fraternity and the public were shocked when Magistrate Moore handed down the suspended sentence.

Bacchus’ wife and 17-year-old son, who were jointly charged, were also acquitted due to lack of evidence against them.
The three were remanded to prison when they made their first court appearance on August 23, 2011, but subsequently secured high court bail in the sum of $1 million each on November 23 that year.

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