Brazilian on shotgun, ammo charges accuses soldiers of brutality

-lawyer says accused was having picnic on bank of Takutu River

A Brazilian national, who was allegedly held with an unlicensed shotgun and ammunition in the Rupununi this week, yesterday accused members of the Guyana Defence Force (GDF) of brutally assaulting him.

Antonio Alves, 48, made the allegation when he was arraigned before Georgetown magistrate Judy Latchman on two charges.

The first charge stated that Alves had a 28-gauge single barrel firearm without being a licensed firearm holder on January 28th, at Sawariwau Village, South Central Rupununi. A second charge alleged that on the same date and at the same location he had five live 28-gauge cartridges without being a licensed firearm holder.

Alves, with the aid of a translator, denied both charges.

Police Prosecutor Arvin Moore objected to bail being granted to the defendant, while saying he would be a flight risk since he is not a Guyanese.

Moore added the defendant entered the country illegally after he crossed the Takutu River, while it was dry, on a motorcycle.

He explained that around 2.40 pm on the day in question, the police and members of the GDF were on patrol when they saw Alves, who was a pillion rider on a motorcycle, with a gun in his hand.

The prosecutor noted that the police stopped the motorcycle and carried out a search on him and they found the firearm along with the five cartridges, which were in one of his pockets. Alves was then told of the offence he had committed, and cautioned.

Moore noted that it was at that point that Alves told officers that he had purchased the firearm and ammunition from a man in Brazil.

Alves was then taken to the Lethem Station, where checks were made with the immigration authority and it was revealed that he had entered the country illegally.

Moore went on to tell the court that the defendant made allegations of being assaulted and was taken to the Lethem Health Centre, where he was examined. A medical certificate that was issued showed that he suffered abrasions to his right cheek, swelling to his right lower back and discoloration in the said region, the prosecutor noted.

Attorney Jerome Khan, who represented Alves, told the court that his client should never have been arrested. According to the attorney, his client, who is a licensed firearm holder in Brazil, was having a picnic with several members of his family on the bank of the Takutu River, which separates Brazil and Guyana.

He added that members of the GDF saw them and with rifles pointed, ordered Alves and his brother-in-law to go over to them, which would have placed them on Guyanese soil. He noted that it was then that his client was gun-butted and beaten mercilessly by members of the GDF. Khan said his client was rendered unconscious due to the beating and only survived because members of the Guyana Police Force, who were passing, stopped the GDF ranks from their assault on his client.

Alves, he noted, suffered a broken rib, bruises and abrasions to his lower back, which this newspaper observed after the magistrate requested that the defendant lift his shirt. He also had bruising to his neck.

Khan said that the prosecutor noted that his client was taken to the health centre but failed to mention the fact that Alves was also taken to the hospital, where an X-ray was done.

The X-ray, Khan, added, along with the defendant’s documents are with the police at Lethem pending an investigation against the GDF ranks who assaulted Alves.

According to Khan, the question that ought to be answered is where his client was when the weapon was found.

He urged the court to grant his client bail since he needs proper medical treatment. He also said Alves works with the Brazilian government and would not be a flight risk.

Bail was, however, denied and the accused was remanded to prison.

The matter is set to be called again on February 6th before the Chief Magistrate for reassignment.

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