Social Activist Mark Benschop and Kaieteur News Columnist Freddie Kissoon were released on $1 bail each yesterday, when they appeared before Magistrate Chandra Sohan, at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court on obstruction charges.
The cash bail amount was comfortably the lowest in years, most likely decades.
The two men, who were represented by defence attorneys Nigel Hughes, Christopher Ram, Khemraj Ramjattan and Gino Persaud, were charged with obstructing municipal workers and pedestrians. They pleaded not guilty.
The charges stemmed from Benschop’s positioning himself in front of the western gate of Le Repentir cemetery to prevent the entry of garbage trucks to the dumpsite, stating that it was a health hazard to the environs.
It is alleged that on Monday, last, on Cemetery Road, the defendants obstructed municipal workers from performing their duties at the dumpsite and wilfully remained on the said road in such a manner, which caused obstruction to other road users.
Attorney Nigel Hughes in a bail application told the court that his clients have no previous convictions and are not flight risks. He added that, in fact, they are eager for a trial to commence, since they are hoping to achieve a fast transition of rights for the citizens of Guyana.
Hughes indicated that under the Traffic Act, the fine for committing such an offence is $100, but since his clients spent two days in the lockups, they should be released on their own recognizance.
Police Prosecutor Phillip Sheriff objected to the bail application made by the defence counsel. He said that the men should be released on some amount of bail because of the nature of the offence.
Magistrate Sohan granted bail to each man to the tune of $1 and ordered that they return to court on February 9, 2011.
On Tuesday, last, police arrested Benschop and Kissoon for obstructing traffic along Cemetery Road and preventing ingress and egress at the cemetery.
Kissoon stated that after looking at and assessing the situation at the dumpsite, they decided that they would file an injunction in the court to prevent the further dumping of garbage at the location. He added that the situation has now reached the state of one of the country’s biggest disasters ever, barring the crime wave.
Shortly after, Benschop with the help of other persons who had converged at the location proceeded to lock the main gate leading to the dump site preventing garbage trucks from entering.
In addition to locking the gate, Benschop then sat on an old computer that he had placed in front of the gate. This forced the garbage trucks which kept turning up frequently at the location to just park outside of the cemetery causing a traffic build-up.
Not long after, police arrived and arrested Benschop and subsequently Kissoon, who returned to the dumpsite after he received a telephone call saying that his colleague, Benschop, was being arrested.
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