Ex-soldier freed of gun, ammo charges after prosecution fails to prove case

Jamal Hazel

Jamal Hazel, the former Guyana Defence Force (GDF) soldier who was charged with the illegal possession of a pistol and ammunition at the start of the year, was yesterday freed of the charges after the prosecution failed to prove its case against him.

It was alleged that on January 13th, at Middle Road, La Penitence, Hazel had a .380 pistol without being the holder of a licence.

On the same date, it is also alleged that he had in his possession nine .380 ammunition rounds without being the holder of a licence.

Principal Magistrate Judy Latchman, who presided over the trial, noted that the prosecution relied heavily on a caution statement purportedly made by the accused and which indicated that he purchased the weapon in question from someone called “Papi” for $160,000.

Magistrate Latchman also noted that during the trial Hazel gave sworn evidence. During his testimony, he stated that he told a constable, “I don’t know bout no gun.”

Hazel further described in detail, according to the Magistrate, being assaulted by police, including being kicked and shoved, and having a shirt placed over his face and gutter water poured on him by various officers, whom he identified to the court.

It was at this point that the court heard from Hazel that he took ownership of the gun so that the police would stop beating and assaulting him.

Magistrate Latchman stated that although it was difficult to determine if the defendant was truly assaulted by the police, the court took note of his recollection of what occurred and the detailed account he presented to the court.

The Magistrate said since the only evidence against the accused was the caution, statement, which the court was not prepared to accept, the charge against Hazel was dismissed.

Hazel was also charged with stealing over $5 million in cash during an armed robbery, but had the charge against him dismissed in May, as the complainant opted to offer no evidence against him.

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