Former accountant of the Guyana Rice Development Board (GRDB), Peter Ramcharran, will not be coming home anytime soon from Canada to face fraud charges here, his lawyer says.
According to Kaisree Chatarpaul, a former magistrate in Guyana who now practices law in Canada, the legal procedures being used to bring back his client are highly flawed and will be vigorously tested in courts there.
Ramcharran is wanted in Guyana to face fraud charges for alleged breaches at GRDB, an independent state agency that regulates the rice industry. Already six former officials, including current Opposition parliamentarians who were part of the former board, have been charged and released on bail pending trial.
The police’s Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), earlier this month, successfully moved to the local courts, asking for an arrest warrant.
The Government of Guyana in turn has asked the Canadian authorities to send Ramcharran back.
According to the lawyer, his client has been in Canada since last year on a student’s visa, attending Humber College. He left Guyana in March 2016 and not this year as authorities are claiming, his lawyer said.
Public Security Minister Khemraj Ramjattan said over the weekend that from all indications the accountant left in April, a month before the six persons from GRDB were charged.
Ramcharran was there at Humber College last week Tuesday, when immigration officials descended on the college and took him into custody.
The lawyer said he was retained more than a month ago by the accountant after news broke of arrests and charges of the former GRDB executives in Guyana.
Ramcharran was taken to the immigration enforcement office, processed, and told of allegations that he was wanted in Guyana.
Chatarpaul said he was contacted the next day by the accountant, but had trouble finding him. He managed to locate his client not in an immigration detention centre, but in a high security holding facility in Maplehurst, outside of Toronto.
According to the lawyer, there were several things wrong with the process. He insisted that Canadian laws work differently from the US, and one cannot be sent back on an immigration issue to face criminal charges. Rather, extradition proceedings should have been filed.
In any case, Ramcharran had a valid visa as a student and that is why the immigration judge before whom he appeared last Thursday decided to grant him bail of Cdn $13,000 – $10,000 bond and $3,000 cash
According to the lawyer, there was a clear abuse of process, with Ramcharran protected under the laws of Canada which guarantees life, liberty and security.
Chatarpaul made it clear that extradition proceedings are not straightforward and involve several procedures with Canadian authorities who are strict, especially on people’s rights.
The lawyer said that SOCU in Guyana never contacted his client to tell him he was wanted in Guyana to face charges and therefore lied to the court when one of its officials swore before a magistrate that his (Chatarpaul’s) client had fled the jurisdiction.
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