By Feona Morrison
Before a packed audience at the Leonora Magistrate’s Court yesterday, the three men accused of the July 2015 murder of Regent Multiplex Mall owner, Ganesh ‘Boyo’ Ramlall, professed their innocence only to be informed that they will have to go on trial before a judge and jury at the High Court.
Lennox ‘Soldier Man’ Roberts, 32, of 2279 Tuschen Housing Scheme, East Bank Essequibo; Fazeel ‘Javed’ Bacchus, 21, of 7 Anna Catherina, West Coast Demerara; and Kurt ‘Banana’ Erskine, 35, of 285 Section ‘C’, Golden Grove, East Bank Demerara; were further remanded to prison at the conclusion of the preliminary inquiry.
According to reports, Ramlall, of Lot C La Jalousie, West Coast Demerara, was reportedly shot seven times about the body after bandits attacked his home on July 5, 2015.
The 48-year-old businessman had reportedly just returned home from a barbecue at Cornelia Ida, West Coast Demerara, when he was accosted by four men, one of whom shot him to the head and chest before relieving him of jewelry and a wallet before escaping.
Bacchus and Roberts were charged two weeks after the murder.
They were among 10 men arrested after police smashed a terror gang on July 14, 2015 at an apartment at First Street, Craig, East Bank Demerara. That SWAT team-led operation resulted in the death of wanted man Rolston Morrison, called ‘Sadam’ and ‘Mappy’.
Erksine was charged the following year in March.
Yesterday, Magistrate Rochelle Liverpool overruled no-case submissions made at an earlier court hearing by Attorneys-at-Law Bernard DeSantos and Lyndon Amsterdam who represented Roberts and Erskine respectively.
She upheld submissions made by Attorney-at-Law Nigel Hughes who represented the state in the matter. The Magistrate ruled that after reviewing all the evidence presented during the inquiry, she was satisfied that there was sufficient evidence against the three to put them on trial.
According to the Magistrate, both lawyers highlighted important issues as it relates to the charge before their clients. However, the Magistrate pointed out that it is her view that the issues be cleared up by a jury after proper directions on the law by a trial judge.
Before the men were formally committed to stand trial at the next practicable sitting of the Demerara Assizes at the High Court in Georgetown, they professed their innocence.
In compliance with certain sections of the law, the Magistrate asked each of the accused if they had anything to say in answer to the murder charge.
Erksine and Roberts told the court that they were innocent of the charge and that they would reserve their defence for the High Court. They both gave unsworn statements and declined to call witnesses.
Bacchus, who had no legal representation, appeared puzzled even though he told the Magistrate that he understood the question he was being asked.
For a moment, Bacchus elected to remain silent. A short while later he informed the Magistrate that he would like to say something. As the court waited for his response, Bacchus began making certain gestures while standing in the prisoner’s dock and began looking around the courtroom. That wait was in vain.
Bacchus then told the Magistrate that he would remain silent since he did not want to say anything that would get him into further trouble.
But minutes after, Bacchus, who armed himself with a sheet of writing paper, told the Magistrate that he would like to write a statement in his defence and give it to her.
Magistrate Liverpool informed Bacchus that the court will not accept the statement since it would not be in keeping with the law. Bacchus was told that anything he wants to say has to be said aloud in open court and that the court cannot accept privately a written statement from him or anyone else.
The murder accused, who appeared visibly upset, shouted, “Me ain’t kill nobody. Why am I being charged with murder?” Bacchus, who said he has been in prison for the past 29 months, said that prison is not a safe place for him because it is a “cowboy place.”
Nevertheless, in the interest of Bacchus, Attorney Hughes informed the court that in his report to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) he will highlight that the accused has expressed fear for his life.
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