Wanted man David Leander called David Zammett and `Biscuit’ who was captured earlier this week during a joint services operation in Buxton that left two dead, appeared in the Georgetown Magistrate’s Court yesterday and allegations of police brutality marred the proceedings.
Although police had said repeatedly that the 28-year-old, Lot 112 Vigilance, East Coast resident was wanted for a series of high profile murders including that of Agri-culture Minister Satyadeow Sawh and his siblings, Leander was only charged with attempting to commit murder and possession of narcotics. He was not allowed to plead to the most serious charge but denied the other and Magistrate Hazel Octive-Hamilton remanded him to prison.
It is alleged that on October 14, 2004 at Buxton, East Coast Demerara, Leander discharged a loaded firearm at Randy Joseph with intent to murder him.
He is also accused of having five grammes of cannabis in his possession when he was captured.
As word spread yesterday that the wanted man was going to be making a court appearance, curious persons flocked the courtyard. Around 1:30 pm under heavy police guard he arrived but had to be assisted up the stairs to the courtroom. Untidily dressed in a burgundy t-shirt, short pants and a pair of black boots, Leander was handcuffed and shackled. At a first glance one would have thought that he was handicapped since he was unable to walk but relatives and his lawyer, Basil Williams, later said that the man was beaten by the police.
The bullet wound on the palm of his left hand that he sustained during the police operation was exposed and there was a small metal rod protruding from that area. That area was also swollen. Leander also had a swollen right eye and he could hardly speak. There was also a piece of tissue stuck in his ears and the court was told that this was so because blood was oozing from it.
He was apparently unable to sit up and had to be braced by relatives who repeatedly sapped his upper body with Limacol.
When the case was called, Leander was lying on a bench in the courtroom and Williams told the magistrate that the man could not move. However, the magistrate requested to see the accused, instructing police officers to lift him into the bar area. Leander was placed on the floor a few feet in front of the magistrate and the two policemen stood behind bracing him in a sitting position.
The magistrate then recorded the visible injuries and proceeded to read the charge.
Williams in his client’s defence said that he was instructed that he was beaten in the head and face and could not hear properly from his right ear.
He also told the magistrate that blood was oozing from Leander’s ears but on checking only a yellowish substance was discovered.
“He has been beaten, tortured and drugged over the last three days while in police custody”, Williams added.
The defence counsel asked the court to record that Leander could not stand on his own and that he could only sit upright because of the policemen.
The magistrate refused to record that and it sparked a heated argument between her and the defence counsel.
Williams later said that an order was granted by Justice Jainaryan Singh Jr instructing the police to produce his client before him at 1:30 pm (yesterday) or show cause why he should not be released immediately. However at the specified time, “someone from the AG’s (Attorney General) chambers” appeared in court and told the judge that an order was granted for the police to hold Leander until November 6 and that an arrest warrant was out for him.
Counsel stressed that no document was produced to show that there was indeed a warrant out for his client. He said too that the state counsel also told the judge that Leander will be charged for the cannabis that he had in his pocket but the counsel questioned why they would require an extension for that.
Williams also made an application for his client to seek medical attention but he was directed to the High Court. He also informed the court that in light of the state counsel’s revelation, the judge instructed that Leander must be before him by 2:45 pm. Williams also denied his client goes by the name David Zammett, stressing that that person was arrested by police a year ago.
The magistrate refused bail and transferred the matter to the Vigilance Magistrate’s Court for next week Thursday.
After the proceedings were over, two policemen dragged Leander down the court steps to the police vehicle much to the displeasure of relatives and other onlookers.
About half an hour later, Leander was taken to the High Court to see Justice Singh but Williams told this newspaper when contacted that he could not leave the vehicle due to the state he was in. Williams said that the judge upon seeing his condition ordered that he be taken to a doctor immediately.
On Tuesday members of the Joint Services shot and killed Orlando Andrews called ‘Bullet’ and Noel James called ‘Baby’, both of Friendship, ECD and captured Leander. The police said that wanted bulletins were published for Leander and Andrews in relation to investigations into the murder of Agriculture Minister Sawh and his siblings.
Leander was also wanted by the police in relation to investigations into the murder of Anson Melville at Friendship on 2004-01-11; the murder of William Adams called `Grego’ at Friendship on 2004-08-02 and attempted murder committed on Randy Joseph at Friendship on 2004-10-04.
In a statement the police said that around 10 am on Tuesday joint services ranks came under fire from a group of armed men along Brushe Dam, Buxton. The ranks returned fire, fatally wounding Andrews who was hit in the right side of his chest, while the others managed to escape. The statement continued that around 1.30 pm the ranks cordoned off a house at Brushe Dam and while in the process of searching it came under fire from James. Again, the ranks returned fire, hitting James about his body. An unlicensed .38 Taurus revolver along with five spent shells were recovered by the ranks.
James was only recently released from prison after serving a sentence for larceny, the police said. Andrews had been charged by the police for the murder of Troy Phillips on 2004-12-05 at Church of God road, Buxton. He was also charged with inflicting grievous bodily harm on Dennis Daniels at Annandale, ECD, on 2005-07-11. In both matters arrest warrants for him were issued by the courts, the police said, adding that Andrews was wanted for questioning by the police in relation to the murder of Anson Melville at Friendship on 2004-01-11; the murder of Davechan Appanna at Section ‘B’, Non Pareil, ECD, on 2004-08-17 and the murder of schoolgirl Christine Sukhra at Coldingen, ECD, on 2004-08-28.