Kwame Mc Coy, a former presidential liaison officer was arraigned yesterday in the Providence Magis-trate’s Court on three charges – including assaulting activist Mark Benschop – and released on $275,000 bail.
Mc Coy pleaded not guilty to the charges of unlawful assault, simple larceny and malicious damage to property after they were read to him by Magistrate Lerone Daly.
According to the charges, on the morning of March 5, 2011, Mc Coy in the company of others at Diamond New Scheme damaged F150 motor pick up, GLL 3101, property of Benschop. The two other charges alleged that Mc Coy on the same day unlawfully assaulted Benschop and stole an Acer laptop valued $120,000, property of Benschop
Mc Coy told the Magistrate from the prisoner’s dock, he is not guilty of the accusations.
Subsequent to the first charge being read, McCoy requested that the matters be stood down until his attorney Euclin Gomes arrived. The request was granted.
When Mc Coy’s attorney arrived, the matter was recalled. Gomes then asked the court if it was in possession of the statements from three persons. He further questioned if the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had seen the statements before it had advised charges.
Responding to the queries, the police prosecutor related that the DPP’s office had seen all the statements and then advised charges.
In an application for bail, Mc Coy’s attorney told the magistrate that Mc Coy is a well-known journalist and suggested he be released on his own recognisance. Gomes also told the court his client is not a flight risk.
After listening to the bail application and with no objection from the police prosecutor, bail was granted. For the malicious damage to property charge, Mc Coy was placed on $200,000 bail, $50,000 for the simple larceny charge and $25,000 for the unlawful assault.
The matter was adjourned to the 18th of May.
Prior to his appearance in court, Mc Coy issued a statement in which he claimed political persecution.
Mc Coy said “After several months of intolerable harassment at the hands of the Guyana Police Force, I am convinced that there is a political agenda to use the criminal justice system to witch-hunt me because of journalistic and political activism.
“Over the last few months, I have had to endure several days of imprisonment; I spent numerous hours at police stations; I gave several statements to the police; I have been asked innumerable questions; attempts have been made to frame me for murder; I have been charged with an assault which allegedly took place over five (5) years ago; although assault is one of the most trivial charges known to criminal law, I have been taken to court in chains…
“I submitted a written statement explaining that I was nowhere in the vicinity at the time this incident is alleged to have taken place. The police claimed that they have an eye-witness. Myself and Attorney-at-law requested the name of this witness. We also requested to have a confrontation with this witness. Both of these requests were denied.
“My Attorney-at-law submitted statements from three different eye-witnesses who were present at the time …when the incident was alleged to have occurred. All of these persons confirmed that I was not at the scene and that I came on the scene some 15 minutes or more after the incident occurred”.
He called on the Guyana Human Rights Association, other human rights organisations in Guyana, the DPP, the police Office of Professional Responsibility, the Police Complaints Authority and others to condemn what he said was “political persecution”.
Benschop was allegedly attacked outside Mc Coy’s Diamond, East Bank Demerara home, where he said he had gone to take pictures of how “money is being spent on mansions for people like Mc Coy.”
Benschop’s truck, which was left outside Mc Coy’s home after he fled the area, was badly smashed, with all of the windows and windscreens broken. He had told this newspaper that cash and several items, including important personal documents, had been stolen.
Outside of the court, Benschop told reporters that he is glad that justice is finally going to take its course. Whatever the outcome, Benschop said he is satisfied that the police have finally done their job by instituting charges against Mc Coy.
Benschop added that the charges against Mc Coy show that no one is above the law and should serve as notice to others who are of the opinion that they are above the law or have connections with people in high authority.
Mc Coy was questioned in relation to the altercation in April of this year and was subsequently released on station bail.