Pregnant accused, ex-ministerial aide released on bail

Rohbina Basdeoram, the Guyanese born-Canadian accused of conspiring to smuggle cocaine onto a Canada-bound flight, has been granted a bail release due to her advanced pregnancy.

Basdeoram, who is due to deliver in April, was granted $400,000 bail by Magistrate Judy Latchman, who took into consideration the woman’s condition during a hearing in Georgetown yesterday.

During Basdeoram’s appearance at the court, she was seen crying out for pain while sitting in the prisoners’ quarters. At her arraignment, her lawyer had said she is due to deliver in April and her delivery is expected be delicate since she will need to undergo a Caesarian-section.

In addition, one of Basdeoram’s two co-accused, former ministerial aide Kenroy Joseph, who was charged with aiding the woman and her husband in the plot, also managed to secure his release on bail after an approach to the High Court.

Kenroy Joseph
Kenroy Joseph

Joseph yesterday was also faced with an additional charge of forgery stemming from his alleged involvement in the plot. It is the police’s case that he helped the couple to pass through the VIP lounge of the Cheddi Jagan International Airport (CJIA) by presenting forged documents from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs stating that he was carrying out protocol duties for Basdeoram and her husband, Mahendra Ramsuchit.

Police now say Joseph, on January 20, 2015, at Charlotte Street and Shiv Chanderpaul Drive, uttered a document knowing it to be forged. He denied this charge and was placed on $100,000 bail.

After surrendering himself to the police, Joseph was last week Friday charged with aiding and abetting Basdeoram and Ramsuchit in trafficking 21.360 kilogrammes of cocaine at the CJIA. Although Joseph was denied bail once again yesterday on the drug trafficking charge in the magistrate’s court, he managed to secure $1M bail after making an application in the High Court.

Ramsuchit, meanwhile, remains a remanded prisoner.

Although bail applications were made for both him and his wife, he was further remanded to prison after Prosecutor Vishnu Hunt objected, saying there was no special reasons put forward to the court. Further, Hunt told the court that Ramsuchit, in his caution statement, had admitted to having knowledge of the cocaine. He also said the man gave a different address to the police from the one he gave to the court.

 Rohbina Basdeoram
Rohbina Basdeoram
Mahendra Ramsuchit
Mahendra Ramsuchit

When the couple was arraigned before Chief Magistrate Priya Sewnarine-Beharry last week, it was alleged that on January 30, at the CJIA, Ramsuchit, 29, of Lot 18 Rose Hall, East Canje, Berbice, had in his possession 10.392 kilogrammes of cocaine for the purpose of trafficking, while Basdeoram had in her possession 10.968 kilogrammes for the same purpose. The couple is accused of initially evading detection by boarding the flight by way of the VIP section on the pretext of being relatives of a government official. They both pleaded not guilty to the charges.

In a statement, the CJIA had noted that a man, who identified himself as Kenneth Jones, presented forged documents from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to the Airport Duty Office (ADO) stating that he was carrying out protocol duties for Ramsuchit and Basdeoram. The CJIA said Jones presented the two individuals as relatives of a government official before security checks revealed them all to be impostors.

Last week it was also brought to the court’s attention that Joseph presented himself to the police since he kept seeing articles in the newspapers with his photograph attached. But Prosecutor Michael Grant had said Joseph was the person that produced an ID card with the name “Kenneth Jones.” He further noted that there is surveillance camera footage from the airport to show that he did go to the airport with the couple. Ramsuchit and Basdeoram, he added, also identified Joseph as the person who took them to the airport.

Grant also said Joseph had full knowledge of the couple’s activities when he produced a letter purportedly from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to get the passengers onboard via the VIP lounge. Joseph was a former aide to Junior Agriculture Minister Ali Baksh.

The trial of the three accused for drug trafficking is fixed for commencement on March 4th.

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