Last Updated on Thursday, 15 December 2022, 15:32 by Denis Chabrol
Georgetown Mayor Ubraj Narine and opposition parliamentarian Sherod Duncan were Thursday morning granted GY$200,000 bail each on race-related charges and they were gagged from saying anything publicly about the cases, their defence lawyer Roysdale Forde said.
Mr Narine was charged with the offence of obstructing traffic in relation to placing a wooden pallet on New Market Street. Mr Narine and Mr Duncan were jointly charged with the indictable offence of using a computer system to attempt to excite ethnic divisions on the ground of race, contrary to the Cybercrime Act. The police charged he duo with the offence of attempting to excite hostility or ill will on the ground of race, contrary to the Racial Hostility Act.
Mr Forde said the two accused were released on self-bail on the traffic offence.
They are to return to court in January, 2023.
However, Mr Forde said his clients did not commit those offences. “The public is well aware that there was no such statement made by them” on December 12, 2022 on New Market Street, Georgetown. They were there in solidarity with vendors to prevent their food caravans and stalls from being taken away by the government and police on the grounds that they were blocking the smooth movement of emergencies to the Georgetown Hospital.
Mr. Forde indicated that the charges were trumped up by the People’s Progressive Party Civic-led administration as part of a wider effort to suppress the opposition People’s National Congress Reform-led A Partnership for National Unity and the AFC. The Defence lawyer voiced outrage at the gag orders that were issued by the court. “These charges are part of a process by the government to shut us down and to shut the opposition down. The court today, in an unprecedented move, gave orders seeking to gag the Mayor, to gag MP Duncan from speaking about this matter. Also, they wanted the gag order to affect their agents and servants,” said Mr Forde, a Senior Counsel. He said the gag orders were unconstitutional and hinted that they would be challenged in the High Court. “Well do all that we have to do,” he said.
Also present at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Court were Opposition Leader Aubrey Norton and Shadow Finance Minister and member of the Public Accounts Committee, Volda Lawrence, and Working People’s Alliance executive members David Hinds and Kidackie Amsterdamwere among the esimated 100 mainly vendors who went out in solidarity with Mayor Narine.
The Opposition Leader on Wednesday night, in an address, had urged supporters especially from Georgetown to turn out in front of the Magistrates’ Court in a show of solidarity for the accused.