Venezuelans jailed for illegal entry

-say they were robbed at sea

Two Venezuelans who pleaded guilty to entering Guyana illegally were yesterday each sentenced to a six-month jail term and fined $30,000.

Magistrate Hazel Octave-Hamilton sentenced Antonio Lema D’Oliveria and Osiou Valdio after they accepted that on August 15, at Charity Essequibo, they entered Guyana by sea but not through a port of entry. The men, during their plea for lenience, said they were intercepted by police after they were robbed at sea.

Meanwhile, another Venezuelan, Carlos Garraway, 38, was also charged but denied the allegation when it was read to him by the Magistrate.

No facts regarding his case were presented to the court.

When asked to fortify the court with his address, Garraway, a miner who speaks English, said that while in Guyana he stayed at his sister’s South Ruimveldt home but did not know the exact location or lot number. The unrepresented Garraway failed in an attempt to secure his bail, after the prosecution argued that he posed a risk of flight.

Police corporal Venetta Pindar argued that the accused had presented an incomplete address to the court. She added too that since he works in the remote areas of the country, it may pose a difficulty for police to locate him if granted bail.

Garraway was subsequently informed that he would be remanded to prison. His matter was transferred to the Charity Magistrates’ Court for August 29.

Meanwhile, D’Oliveria and Valdio, through an interpreter, apologised for the offence committed. The men indicated that they had come to Guyana to invest in the mining industry.

According to the interpreter, the men said that they were on their way back to their country when they became victims of a robbery at sea after which they were intercepted by police, arrested and charged for the offence levelled against them.

As the Venezuelan’s begged for lenience, they asked the court to take into consideration “the robbery they endured on the high seas,” and that they are not law breakers and did not intentionally come into Guyana undocumented.

The interpreter said that the men constantly reiterated, “We just wanted to seek employment and were already on our way back to our country when we got arrested.”

The interpreter related to the court that D’Oliveria said that they would suffer greatly here since they do not know the language.

The Magistrate, in her address to the court, however, cautioned the interpreter to relate to the defendants that she is a “creature of statute,” and has to apply same as stipulated by law though she could exercise “judicial discretion.”

After hearing the case, Magistrate Octave-Hamilton informed the court that the offence carries a 12-month prison sentence together with a $30,000 fine.

She however said that the court would exercise its discretion and sentence each defendant to six months in prison as they had pleaded guilty to the offence at the first instance; not wasting the court’s time in otherwise having to conduct a trial.

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