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Juan Edghill released from custody but won’t violate parliamentary suspension

PPP MP Juan Edghill asking police on Brickdam and Avenue of the Republic to explain to him why he was being prevented from entering Parliament and being arrested.

Opposition People’s Progressive Party (PPP) parliamentarian, Juan Edghill was Tuesday released from police custody after lawmen blocked him from entering Parliament Building because he was suspended for alleged misconduct.

Opposition Leader, Bharrat Jagdeo said the PPP would not push for Edghill’s return to the National Assembly because it does not want to be distracted from scrutinising the budgetary expenditures for 2018. “Right now, we do not want distractions from what is taking place in the Parliament. Any attempt by the Bishop to come back in- we have seen almost overwhelming police action to prevent the Bishop from coming in..,” Jadgeo said. He said the PPP opted to fight the injustice meted out to Edghill while at the same time the remainder of its parliamentarians would remain in the House to question the budgetary allocations for 2018.

PPP Shadow Legal Affairs Minister and Attorney General, Anil Nandlall said High Court action would be taken against several persons in their personal and official capacities for alleged wrongful arrest of Edghill.

“Mr. Azore. I am Bishop Edghill’s lawyer. I am to inform you that you are effecting an unlawful arrest and you will be personally liable for false imprisonment and unlawful arrest,” Nandlall said, adding that House Speaker, Barton Scotland’s authority did not extend on the corner of Brickdam and Avenue of the Republic. “Why is he being denied the right to enter the Public Building. He is not going there to participate,” Nandlall said, adding that his client did not commit any criminal or civil offence.

Edghill told Demerara Waves Online News that despite repeated questions by himself and Nandlall to Divisional Commander, Marlon Chapman and Senior Police Officers, Anthony Vanderhyden and Phillip Azore, none of them could say what were the legal grounds for arresting him. He said the police merely stated that they were complying with orders.

At Brickdam and Avenue of the Republic, one of the officers told Edghill that police received instructions from the Speaker and another policeman told the legislator he was being arrested because he breached the barrier. Edghill was suspended from the House Monday because he continued to speak although House Speaker Barton Scotland had ruled him out of order and instructed him several times to take his seat. At that juncture, Edghill said he did not mind being ruled out of order on a matter of principle on the need for more time to scrutinise the 2018 budgetary allocations for the Ministry of the Presidency.

He said when he was released by the officers on his own recognisance and went downstairs, a junior police officer wrote in a book that he was being released pending an investigation into allegedly assaulting a peace officer. Edghill said he refused to sign to that and eventually he left the Brickdam Police Station without being told when to return to the station. “This is an attempt to criminalise my character and I reject it,” he said.

Edghill said since Monday morning’s fracas, he has not received any communication from the House Speaker or Clerk of the National Assembly, Sherlock Isaacs.