A police raid in a camp in the interior resulted in three men being arrested and charged with unlawful possession of shotgun and ammunition, which a court heard was being used for protection from wild animals.
Ivan Johannis, 58, Niron Bissoondiyal, 52 and Arjune Niranjan, 44, all denied the charge yesterday when they were arraigned at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
The police claimed that the men, on February 10, at Waraputa, Upper Essequibo River, had a 12-gauge shotgun in their possession without having a firearm licence.
Additionally, Johannis and Bissoondiyal were charged with being in possession of four matching rounds each.
Attorney Jerome Khan, who represented the men at yesterday’s hearing before Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry, told the court that his clients were employed by a man and they were in the area at the time seeking Silverballi and other woods used for building boats.
He noted that the men were in the camp for only three weeks and that they were using the weapon for defensive purposes, since they were exposed to dangerous wild animals.
Additionally, the attorney noted that when the police conducted the search, his clients were not together. Bissondiyal, he said, was the only one present at the time of the search, while Niranjan was 10 miles away and Johannis was two miles away.
Khan, who claimed none of the men had direct possession of the weapon, said they posed no risk of flight and had cooperated with the police.
In pressing for bail, he said all three men had clean records and the charges came as a shock to their relatives.
Meanwhile, Prosecutor Michael Grant objected to bail. He told the court that the police received information and went to the area to carry out the search.
Grant said the police made contact with Bissoondiyal and a search of his person revealed four cartridges in the pocket of a jacket he was wearing, although he denied knowledge of the items.
Later, on the same day, Grant said the police met Johannis in a boat in the area with the gun in his possession the gun, while a search carried out in the camp in the presence of Johannis and Bissoondiyal unearthed four more cartridges.
Additionally, Grant claimed Niranjan admitted in a caution statement to bringing the gun from Suriname.
He added that special reasons are required for bail to be granted in such cases and Khan did not satisfy the court with any.
As a result, the objection to bail was upheld and the matter was adjourned to April 20, when it is to be called at the Mahdia Magistrate’s Court.