Trinidad: Pundit wins case over illegal arrest

Attorney Kevin Ratiram, left, with his client Deodath Balliram after the court’s decision last Friday.

(Trinidad Guardian) The State has ac­cept­ed li­a­bil­i­ty in a ma­li­cious pros­e­cu­tion law­suit in which a pun­dit com­plained that the po­lice fab­ri­cat­ed crim­i­nal charges against him.

Jus­tice Ron­nie Boodoos­ingh was in­formed of the State’s po­si­tion by State at­tor­ney Coreen Find­ley when the mat­ter came up for tri­al on Fri­day in the Hall of Jus­tice, Port-of-Spain.

The judge en­tered the con­sent or­der in favour of pun­dit De­o­dath Bal­li­ram. Bal­li­ram was charged with as­sault­ing an em­ploy­ee by beat­ing her and re­sist­ing ar­rest fol­low­ing an in­ci­dent at a cloth­ing store on High Street, San Fer­nan­do on Jan­u­ary 7, 2010.

Ac­cord­ing to court doc­u­ments, Bal­li­ram had a dis­pute with the man­ag­er about him giv­ing away his $50 dis­count cards.

He said she al­so threat­ened to have him locked up. Bal­li­ram in­sist­ed he could do what he pleased with the cards be­cause they be­longed to him.

He said the man­ag­er left the store and re­turned with two po­lice of­fi­cers. Short­ly af­ter, two more po­lice of­fi­cers ar­rived. He said one of the of­fi­cers start­ed ques­tion­ing him about the dis­count cards. Bal­li­ram claimed the of­fi­cer or­dered him out the store, grabbed his hand and be­gan drag­ging him to­wards the ex­it.

The of­fi­cer, how­ev­er, re­leased him af­ter an­oth­er of­fi­cer in­ter­vened. Bal­li­ram claimed he went to the store to pur­chase a pair of pants. He said he and the man­ag­er en­gaged in dis­pute about the price of the pants.

Court doc­u­ment stat­ed Bal­li­ram in­sist­ed that the price of the pants as stat­ed on the price tag was $230. How­ev­er, he claimed the man­ag­er claimed that was an “old price” and that the ac­tu­al price was $349.

Even­tu­al­ly, Bal­li­ram said the of­fi­cer ar­rest­ed and charged him. He com­plained that he was placed in a small filthy cell with six oth­er men with noth­ing to sit or lie on, and a hole in the ground for a toi­let. He plead­ed not guilty to the charges. The mat­ter went to tri­al be­fore San Fer­nan­do Mag­is­trate Tara­ma­tee Ram­dass who up­held a no case sub­mis­sion by his at­tor­ney Kevin Rati­ram in Sep­tem­ber 2013.

Bal­li­ram said the charges caused him emo­tion­al stress and anx­i­ety and he was sub­ject­ed to ridicule and hu­mil­i­a­tion.

He al­so com­plained that the num­ber of re­li­gious cer­e­monies he was asked to per­form de­creased sig­nif­i­cant­ly af­ter the in­ci­dent.

Pri­or to the in­ci­dent, he had nev­er been charged with any crim­i­nal of­fence. The pun­dit asked for com­pen­sa­tion for ma­li­cious pros­e­cu­tion, in­ter­ests and re­im­burse­ment of his le­gal costs.

Rati­ram in­formed the judge that they were en­gaged in dis­cus­sions re­gard­ing com­pen­sa­tion and re­quest­ed ad­di­tion­al time to con­tin­ue ne­go­ti­a­tions. The par­ties will re­turn to court on April 3. At­tor­ney Di­anne Kat­wa­roo al­so rep­re­sent­ed the State.

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