Two men accused by the police of having ammunition in a barrel were yesterday remanded to prison until today by acting Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry.
The allegation against Jameel Ahmad Khan and Asif Sahid is that on November 26 without lawful permission, they had in their possession 500 rounds of Winchester .22 ammunition, 100 rounds of Remington .22 ammunition, 20 rounds of Winchester Super X ammunition, 499 rounds of Remington golden bullet .22 ammunition, 99 rounds of Thunder Bolt .22 ammunition and 79 rounds of Remington 30-30 ammunition without being holders of a licence in force at the time.
The jointly charged duo was not required to plead to the indictable charge of possession of ammunition without licence when it was read to them.
Prosecutor Stephen Telford told the court that Khan who is a Canada-based Guyanese, has a firearm licence issued by the Govern-ment of Canada and he had posted the items mentioned in the charge from that country to Guyana.
When the shipment arrived here, the men went to uplift the barrel at the John Fernandes Wharf and were handed over to the police after the barrel was checked by a Customs Officer who discovered the ammunition.
According to Telford, Sahid was implicated as his name was on the barrel as a recipient of the items.
The prosecution objected to the men being granted their pretrial liberty and made a request that a date be set for legal advice to be sought.
Attorney-at-law Nigel Hughes in association with Latoya Hobbes in a vigorous defence to secure bail told the court that in no way were the men attempting to do anything unlawful. According to him, they were “in fact following all legal procedures.”
According to the lawyers, Khan had applied to the Ministry of Home Affairs here in Guyana to be granted a firearm licence and had subsequently made the shipment of the items in question with the understanding of the ministry and the Customs Department that they would have been taken to the armory [a holding facility of the Home Affairs Ministry] until the licence application was acknowledged, approved and the licence granted.
Hughes said he was surprised at the arrests.
Hughes presented to the court a number of documents attesting to the fact that Khan had indeed applied to the ministry for a firearm licence, and that he had notified Customs of the nature of his shipment and the fact that the ammunition would to be taken to the armory.
Telford however maintained that the men were not licensed firearm and ammunition holders. According to him the defence failed to show that the men were licensed firearm holders in Guyana.
Hughes argued that the items which were at the wharf could not have been considered as being in his clients’ possession. Reemphasizing that at no time were the men involved in any wrongdoing, he asked the court to bear in mind that the items were headed to the ammunition bond.
Hughes said Khan was no stranger to the business of ammunition importation and had successfully gone through this procedure before. He said that since 1994 his client has been involved in the business. He said too that Sahid was merely the consignee to the items.
The lawyer said the policy of Guyana provides for such items to be imported and then a licence granted, but when asked by the magistrate for a confirmation on this Telford said that he was not aware of such an arrangement.
The attorneys in their bail applications said their clients have no antecedents, pose no risk of flight, have fixed addresses and have been cooperating with police investigations. According to Hughes, if the police believe Khan might flee the jurisdiction in an attempt to evade trial, provision can be made for his passport to be lodged at the Brickdam Police Station.
Sixty-nine-year-old Khan of 88 Eccles New Housing Scheme, Phase AA, East Bank Demerara and Sahid, 25, were remanded to prison after the unsuccessful attempt by their lawyers to secure bail on their behalf.
Sahid who appeared visibly shocked by the decision wept bitterly as he exited the courtroom.