Sacked doctor Vishwamintra Persaud was remanded to prison yesterday, after being arraigned at the Blairmont Court on charges of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl.
The charges read before the court alleged that between February 1 and February 28, at Bush Lot Village, West Coast Berbice (WCB), Dr. Persaud, 41, allegedly engaged in sexual penetration of a child under the age of 16. Magistrate Roby Benn ordered the defendant to return to the Fort Wellington Court on August 3.
Attorney Joel Persid-Edmond applied for reasonable bail and said his client was willing to lodge his passport and would report to the nearest police station.
He said Dr. Persaud is a businessman and had a fixed place of abode at 55 ‘C’ Bush Lot Village, WCB.
Police Prosecutor, Inspector Grace Bristol, however, asked for bail to be refused on the grounds of the gravity of the offence. She submitted that it is likely that the defendant would not attend his trial and could tamper with the witness.
She argued too that he could be considered a flight risk, because persons do not necessarily have to have a passport to leave the country.
In response, Persid-Edmond, argued that the grounds that the prosecution put forward were mere speculation and that there was no concrete evidence.
He told the court that he could not see how his client could tamper with the witness when she was in the protective care of the Child Care and Protection Agency. The lawyer further submitted that that was his client’s first appearance in any court in Guyana.
After listening to the submissions, the magistrate refused bail.
On Sunday, the man’s lawyer said he was concerned that his client had been kept in custody beyond the 72-hour maximum period within which a person could be held without charge. “He is still in custody and it is not legally permissible for the police to do so…They made no application to extend the period he can remain in custody and therefore he should have been released,” the lawyer said.
He said that his client, who continues to maintain his innocence, was very concerned about what he saw as the abuse of power by the police.
Further, the attorney said when he approached the “top crime man for the Berbice area,” the police officer told him that he was advised to keep the doctor in custody until his court date.
The lawyer contended that the police should have put his client on bail and as a precaution could have instructed him to report to the station yesterday morning. He said he tried on Saturday to have habeas corpus proceedings filed in the High Court to seek his client’s release but was unsuccessful.
The doctor was arrested last week and the child he is accused of molesting has been placed into the custody of the Child Care and Protection Agency (CCPA). She has since been examined by doctors.
Stabroek News was told that officers from the CCPA received the information earlier this year about the alleged assault, which reportedly occurred on two occasions – in November last year and again in February.
However, they did not have the details about the victim to pursue the matter. According to sources, it was not until last Wednesday that the officers received a call with the directions for the victim and they immediately visited her home.
Dr. Persaud was fired from the GPH after information surfaced that his licence was terminated in the US because he was a child sex felon.