Trial of customs officer in Polar Beer case starts

The trial of a customs officer accused of attempting to obstruct the course of justice by unlawfully uplifting four persons along with more than 1,000 cases of beer and a truck from the Leonora Police station began yesterday with Special Constable Robert Campbell of the Parika Police Station giving evidence.

Keon Pryce of 228 Laing Avenue, West Ruimveldt is accused of attempting to obstruct the course of justice. He had pleaded not guilty to the charge and is being represented by attorney-at-law Lyndon Amsterdam. The matter is being heard before Magistrate Fazil Azeez at the Leonora Magistrate’s Court.

Campbell yesterday said that on March 9 he was at the Leonora Police Station, when Pryce, whom he did not know, arrived and asked to speak to an officer. He said that he was asked to inform the officer that someone was there to see him. Campbell stated that he later learnt that the defendant’s name was Keon Pryce and he was a customs officer. He said that he also noticed a woman was sitting on a bench outside the inquiries office of the station but he did not know why she was there. He said that he left at 11 pm and later gave a statement in the matter.

Under cross-examination, Campbell stated that he never saw Pryce before and at the time he went to the station he was dressed in civilian clothes.

It is alleged that on March 9 at the Leonora Police Station, Pryce attempted to obstruct the course of justice by unlawfully uplifting from the Leonora Police station Vijai Singh, Anand Tamal, Duean Boston and Eron Lawrence along with 1,130 cases of Polar beer and one motor Canter vehicle number GJJ 4865. The persons were in custody in relation to an investigation for uncustomed goods.

Police at the time had said that they launched a “manhunt” for Pryce after investigating “the irregularity of the handing over of seized goods to a customs officer without prior notification by a senior official of the Guyana Revenue Authority (GRA)”, while the GRA had maintained that he was off-duty at the time and involved in the case in his own capacity.

The beer had been seized at Meten-Meer-Zorg, West Coast Demerara while being loaded into the truck.

The case continues on December 3.

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