Twelve Nepalese men, charged earlier this week with departing Guyana illegally for Venezuela, were yesterday each fined $30,000 after pleading guilty.
Magistrate Ann McLennan, before whom they appeared, explained that once the fines are paid, they are to be deported to Nepal. If any of the men fails to pay the fines, he will be imprisoned for two weeks before deportation.
Nebrew Sherpa, Shankar Shapota, Benod Jeshe, Prakesh Adi-Khan, Tengi Sherpa, Tengi Cherping, Seetang Goorung, Danraj Timsena, Villey Pouden, Kunjab Guruaging, Cunja Goorung and Prakesh Nipali, through their translator, had denied that on November 15, at Charity, Essequibo, they departed Guyana without presenting themselves to an immigration officer.
At their first appearance on Monday, the men were unrepresented. At yesterday’s hearing, however, they were represented by attorney Mark Conway, who informed the court that his clients wanted to change their pleas.
Conway said that the men, collectively, were remorseful for committing the offence and were throwing themselves at the mercy of the court. He begged the magistrate to take into consideration that they did not waste the court’s time.
The interpreter related to the court that the men expressed sorrow for what they had done after they accepted the charge.
A visibly shaken Cunja Goorung, who seemed overcome by emotions, began breathing heavily as he wept uncontrollably for some time during the proceedings and he had to be comforted by the others.
He knelt on his knees as if to express gratitude to court after the fine was imposed.
The visibly relieved men were granted two weeks, which they begged for, to pay their fines after explaining that they would like to have some time to contact relatives back home for financial aid.
The defendants complained of the police taking away US$500 from them in addition to cell phones, wrist watches, rings and other jewellery. The court ordered the investigating rank to ensure their possessions are returned to the men. The court further ordered that they remain in police custody until the fines are paid. Once the fines are paid, the men are to be escorted by ranks of the Criminal Investigation Department to the nearest port of exit to head back to Nepal.
The prosecution had stated that the men all arrived in Guyana legally at the Cheddi Jagan International Airport, Timehri but later left for Venezuela without presenting themselves to an immigration officer.
Prosecutor Deniro Jones had said that the men were later arrested in Venezuela after it was discovered that they were not in possession of Venezuelan visas. They were then deported to Guyana, after which they were arrested and charged.