Terry James who along with Louis Alberto Garcia, Clint Collier, Deonarine Singh and Randolph Singh had been jointly charged with the Cuyuni cocaine bust at Batavia was readmitted to hospital on Sunday.
When the matter was called again yesterday for reports, the court was told by Prosecutor Stephen Telford that James had to be taken back to hospital by prison officials and was readmitted.
The prosecution then made an application for the matter which originated from the Essequibo Magisterial District to be heard in Georgetown.
Acting Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry who is presiding over the matter at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court subsequently granted the prosecution’s request.
Attorney Vic Puran who is representing James objected to the prosecution’s request, citing that his client does not wish to have his matter tried before the acting chief magistrate since he believes that he will not be given a fair trial.
According to Puran, James has related to him that he is uncomfortable with Magistrate Sewnarine-Beharry hearing his case since she facilitated his hearing on June 15, when originally his matter was set to be heard yesterday.
The other accused made their appearance before the magistrate on June 13. James was absent at this initial hearing as he was hospitalized. The court had subsequently granted yesterday’s date for reports on his condition and to have the charge read to him if by then he was discharged.
On Wednesday last, however, James who appeared to have been ill was taken to court with the assistance of a police officer. Puran who was absent from this hearing said that though the police were aware that James was legally represented, they made no effort to notify him that there was a change in the date when his client would have been taken before the court.
More importantly, the lawyer argued that his client was “patently ill, unable to walk and speak coherently,” at the time he was taken to court to answer the narcotics trafficking charge.
Puran contended that given these circumstances, the court showed no concern for his client’s well-being. The attorney further said that the prosecution and police force had exploited his client’s illness to “soften him up to speak.”
It is on these grounds, Puran said, that James feared he would not have a fair trial in Magistrate Sewnarine-Beharry’s court and requested that the matter be tried by another magistrate. In response to the request made by the attorney the magistrate who acknowledged that the accused was indeed taken to court with assistance by police officers, explained that the court cannot refuse to see a prisoner when brought by the police.
She said Puran was making an issue when there was none.
The magistrate went on to explain also that in the circumstances, she did order that James receive medical attention and a report be provided to the court yesterday as to his condition. According to Puran, however, his client was never taken to see a doctor.
The acting chief magistrate then informed the lawyer that his application will be considered.
Friday has now been set for further reports on James’ condition. The other defendants who were present at yesterday’s hearing were also ordered to return to court on Friday.
The allegation against the jointly-charged men is that on June 9 at Batavia Island, Cuyuni River, Essequibo, they trafficked in 149 kilogrammes 638 grammes of cocaine. They have all denied the charge.