–accused beaten and burnt on tongue
With the media barred from entering the Wales Magistrate’s Court, a battered 28-year-old man appeared before the court charged with the murder of retired Region Three vice-chairman Ramenaught Bisram.
Deonarine Rafick, of Canal Number Two, West Bank Demerara, was read the capital offence by Magistrate Ann Mc Lennan yesterday afternoon. The man was not required to plead to the indictable charge of murder.
It is alleged that between October 25 and 26 Rafick murdered Bisram at his North Section Canal Number Two home. The deceased was discovered in his home, in pools of blood, around 4.30 pm by his brother-in-law on Monday.
Attorney-at-law Pamela De Santos represented the accused in the matter. Rafick, De Santos was heard telling the court, was severely beaten by the police.
The man, the attorney alleged, was burnt on the tongue with a cigarette and wounded to his head by police.
As Rafick made his way to the courtroom a bandage could be seen on the left side of his head and his face was bruised and swollen. Later, through a court room window, the accused could be seen lifting his shirt to display wounds and bruises on his neck and back. De Santos also reported that similar bruises were evident on Rafick’s legs, rear end as well as other body parts.
De Santos, speaking to this newspaper via telephone shortly before 6.30 pm yesterday, said she told the court, “The stairway of justice has collapsed,” and the “ethics of the profession are no more there”. Referring to the beating alleged to have been dealt to her client by police, the attorney stated that it was “embarrassing the police would beat and brutally wound a man when they are our protectors”.
The attorney, who is appearing in association with Senior Counsel Bernard De Santos, further explained that one of the wounds on Rafick was approximately two inches in length “and very deep”. Rafick, according to De Santos, had not been given access to medical attention before he appeared in court and the head wound, she said, was “gaping”.
She named three officers attached to the Leonora Police Station, who she accused of inflicting the beating on her client. “I submitted this information to the magistrate and she also made a note of my client’s injuries on the case jacket,” the attorney said last evening.
De Santos said her client was severely beaten “across the backside” and sustained wounds there and along his upper thighs as well. Magistrate Mc Lennan, according to the attorney, ordered that her client be allowed to seek immediate medical attention after the court proceedings yesterday.
Rafick was remanded to prison and the matter adjourned to December 7, De Santos reported.
The attorney expressed surprise last evening when informed that the media had been denied entry to the courtroom and later the court/station compound.
De Santos said the court is a public place, the case was open to public interest and the media should not have been denied entry.
“I wasn’t aware that the media were not allowed to enter the compound,” De Santos stated. “I am sure the police did not want the media in the compound because they were trying to cover up the brutality exercised on my client.” Around 11 am, hours before the charge was read to Rafick, Stabroek News’ reporter, the only media representative present at the time, was asked to leave the compound by police. The reporter was also refused entry to the courtroom and told that Magistrate Mc Lennan did not want the media there. This newspaper could not contact the magistrate for a comment yesterday.
“You can’t enter the compound. Stay beyond the fence,” a police rank told the reporter yesterday. “We are working on orders from our commander,” the officer further explained when asked why the media were being barred from the compound.
Despite the constant drizzle of rain police refused to let the reporter, and later other media representatives, enter the compound.
Paulette Morrison, Commander of Police ‘D’ Division (West Demerara), could not be reached for a comment yesterday.