I have noticed that the race for Chairmanship of the People’s National Congress is heating up, and the three ‘Old School’ candidates are campaigning aggressively. However, I have no horse in this race. But whomever the winner is, I wish that person the best of luck.
That aside, I have noticed that Basil Williams (the Attorney General) mentioned that he has worked pro-bono (free) for “Mark Benschop, for five years” —- Well, that’s fair enough.
However, during those five years, Mr. Williams alongside a battery of lawyers worked for free during my trumped up treason trial. And, I’m eternally grateful to everyone: Shawn Allicock, Carol Martindale, the late Mortimer Coddette, Emily Dodson, Llewellyn John, the late Benjamin Gibson, Roysdale Forde, and many others.
As I recall, during the course of my years of incarceration, I saw Basil twice, once when my case got thrown up to the high court (when he told me to go to my cell and lie down, because Mandela spent 28 years in jail) and the other visit was years after when he and the then Opposition Leader Robert Corbin visited and pleaded with me to write a letter to Bharrat Jagdeo, and apologize for the event in front of the Office of the President.
During that brief meeting (which ended abruptly) I said to both gentlemen that I will not be apologizing to Jagdeo for something I did not do, and that I would rather rot in prison than to suck up to Jagdeo or anyone. Before, the visit concluded, I asked Mr. Corbin to tell Jagdeo that he is the one who needs to apologize to me and my family.
Not surprisingly, in less than 24 hours after my meeting with Corbin and Basil, Jagdeo announced via the media that he had issued me a “Pardon” which I refused, until senior prison officials, and fellow prisoners pleaded with me to accept. And, reluctantly I did, as I would have preferred to go to court.
In closing, my time spent in solitary confinement (Strong Cell/Dungeon) for the entire 5+ years wasn’t easy. However, I’m thankful to those few lawyers who took the time out to visit me.
In fact, two of those lawyers, Llewellyn John, and the late Benjamin Gibson, were there at least twice a week for many years fighting the legal battle. Hence, such legal fight was not the work of one lawyer. Nevertheless, I wish Basil the best in his battle to become Chairman of the PNC.
Mark A. Benschop