…as police hunt prime suspect released on bail
As ranks from the Guyana Police Force Major Crimes Unit continue their search for the prime suspect, who was released on bail, in the probe into the illegal landing of an aircraft and construction of an illegal airstrip at Lethem, two of his employees were yesterday charged and remanded to prison for the offence.
Nathan Hamilton, 21, of Lot 107 Beverley Hills Drive, Lethem, and Wazim King, 37, also of Lethem were not required to plead to the indictable charge which alleged that between August 10 and August 13, last, at Santa Fe, Region Nine, they conspired with Hutshan Ramsingh also known as Seon Singh, to facilitate the illegal landing of an aircraft suspected to be involved in trafficking in narcotics and firearm, in an unauthorised port of entry.
The men who are being represented by Attorneys-at-Law Jerome Khan and Michael Somersall, respectively were not required to plead to the indictable charge read to them by Principal Magistrate Judy Latchman in the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts.
Hamilton and King were remanded to prison until next week Monday when they will appear before Chief Magistrate Ann McLennan.
According to reports, the illegal aircraft and airstrip were discovered about a month ago by police about 10 miles from Santa Fe. Kaieteur News understands that the airstrip was previously destroyed by the Guyana Defence Force (GDF). Hamilton and King were allegedly hired and paid to rehabilitate it. It is believed that the plane, said to be a Brazilian-registered one, and the airstrip, were being used for illegal activities.
The plane has a similar registration number to an aircraft owned by a bank in neighbouring Brazil, but the authorities there have not indicated whether the registration number, PR-IMG, is authentic.
The plane has since been handed over to the army and police have reportedly seized the front-end loader.
Meanwhile, ranks from the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) Headquarters, confiscated two passports belonging to a Colombian and a Brazilian that were found on the illegal Beechcraft twin-engine plane.
It is believed that the travel documents belong to two of the persons who managed to escape when police and others were closing in. A quantity of dry rations, medical supplies, clothing, footwear, two hand-held radios, flashlights, cellular phones were also found during initial inspection.
The International Police Organization (Interpol) is also assisting in the investigation.
Yesterday, a police source emphasized that Hamilton and King admitted their involvement in the construction and preparation of the airstrip, which facilitated the landing of the illegal aircraft.
According to the source, Hamilton and King were arrested last Friday in Lethem by ranks from the Major Crimes Investigation Unit, who travelled to Lethem to probe the matter.
Ramsingh, a Lethem businessman, who is the prime suspect in the scheme, was taken into custody and questioned about his involvement in the crime, the source added.
“(Ramsingh)) was held for (two) 72-hour periods after the authorities were granted an extension by the High Court,” the source revealed. However, the source said that the businessman was released on $100,000 bail after police was unable to garner sufficient evidence against him to press charges.
Kaieteur News understands that the businessman was ordered to report daily to the Lethem Police Station. The police source said that the businessman had been doing so up until last week Friday when his two employees were arrested. It is suspected that the businessman went into hiding after learning that his employees had been arrested and were going to be charged.
Ranks from the Major Crimes Investigations Unit are still in Lethem as the hunt continues for the businessman.
On the other hand, Attorneys-at-Law for Hamilton and King are contending that their clients are innocent of the charge. Attorney Sommersall said that his client was hired by Ramsingh to build a road in the area and had no knowledge that he was constructing an illegal airstrip.
Attorney Khan said that his client is also employed by Ramsingh as the driver of a Bobcat.
Both lawyers questioned the decision of the police to release Ramsingh on bail.
Attorney Khan further added that he believes “some high ranking police officials” are involved in the discovery of the illegal aircraft and airstrip. According to Khan, Hamilton and King have been cooperating with police investigations and should be used as state witnesses.
Nevertheless, the lawyers requested for their clients to be released on bail citing the fact that the matter has to be transferred to the Lethem Magistrate’s Court which is scheduled to have its next sitting in December. The lawyers also said that their clients pose no flight risk.
But Police Prosecutor Vishnu Hunt opposed to bail for the men.
According to Prosecutor Hunt, there is a likelihood that Hamilton and King might flee to Brazil since the country borders Lethem. Further, the prosecutor pointed out the serious nature and prevalence of the offence and the fact that investigations are still ongoing which may lead to other persons being arrested and charged.
President David Granger had travelled to Lethem days after the discovery of the illegal aircraft and airstrip. The President urged security officials to pull out all stops to ensure that the sovereignty of the country and its borders are protected since the matter is being treated as a national security issue.
Minister of State Joseph Harmon had said that there is information which suggested there was some level of collusion between those linked to the aircraft and law enforcement officers stationed in the area.
While there are reports that a large amount of cash was offered to the ranks, the Minister said that a conclusion will only be made once the probe is completed.
Kaieteur News had previously reported that a senior police rank had been allegedly providing security for the illegal aircraft. He has since been transferred to another division while some other ranks have been placed at different police stations.
Reports are that after the plane landed, the senior police rank accompanied by other ranks went to the location to secure the landing. It is alleged that the senior police rank went into the aircraft and stole some monies. He reportedly shared a portion of the monies with a few of the other ranks.
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