Days after his well-publicized appearance in the prisoners’ dock at Whim Magistrate’s Court, Berbice, former President Bharrat Jagdeo is now free to travel after applying to the High Court for permission.
On Friday, Chief Justice (Ag) Ian Chang, agreed to lift the restrictions which Jagdeo, through his lawyer Murseline Bacchus, claimed would stop him from seeking medical attention and carry out his overseas commitments.
In the ‘humble petition’, signed by Jagdeo and his lawyer, the former President said that he resides at Parcels 241 and 246 Goedverwagting, East Coast Demerara, and is an adult and former Executive President of Guyana.
“Your Petitioner has a fixed place of abode at the above address and has been living there for a number of years. Your Petitioner holds an honorary doctorate and because of his activities has been named ‘Champion of the Earth’.”
Jagdeo claimed that because of “international obligations”, he is required to leave Guyana regularly- as matter of fact he has done so on numerous occasions but has always returned.
He said that on April 9, a private citizen- Christopher Ram- filed a private criminal indictable charge against him at the Whim Court. He was not served a summons to appear in court.
On hearing about threat of an arrest warrant by Magistrate Charlyn Artiga, Jagdeo said that he appeared in court.
The former President said that he was placed on bail on his own recognizance and was required to sign it. However, the High Court application argued that there were no conditions attached to the recognizance Jagdeo signed.
The courts documents said that the Magistrate stated in open court that bail was granted on the condition that Jagdeo was not to leave the jurisdiction without permission. She made a written note of that condition on the case docket.
Jagdeo said that he was advised by his lawyer that unless the travel restrictions written on the case jacket were conditioned on the recognizance, it would be null and void. As such the Magistrate acted unreasonably, capriciously and without any proper grounds in declaring the travel restrictions in open court and recording it on the case jacket and not on the recognizance as well.
Jagdeo claimed that the travel restrictions would cause him grave hardships since he resides 75 miles from Whim Magistrate’s Court and he can only seek permission to leave the jurisdiction on the days that the case is called. It is fixed for June 22. He also argued that Magistrate Artiga sits at that court only two days of the week.
The application stated that the Magistrate failed to take into consideration the possibilities that Jagdeo may need medical attention overseas as well as his overseas obligations.
Jagdeo said that he is aware of his legal responsibility to appear in court and has no intention of absconding.
On May 25, when the case was called, Jagdeo was a no show and only turned up in time to avoid the arrest warrant being issued.
He stood in the prisoners’ dock as the charge was read.
The charge stemmed from Jagdeo’s comments on Sunday, March 8 at Babu Jaan, Port Mourant, Berbice in which he is alleged to have said words which could cause racial or ethnic violence or hatred among the people.
If found guilty, Jagdeo could be fined $100,000 along with imprisonment for two years.
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