Arrest warrant issued for TV talk show host
- Benschop in custody
May 16, 2001
JUST hours after controversial Channel Nine TV talk show host, Ronald Waddell was yesterday released on $1,000,000 bail on two charges of sedition, Chief Magistrate Paul Fung-A-Fat issued a warrant for his arrest after it was found that conditions were not met for his release.
Waddell, charged for seditious comments he allegedly made on his TV programme, left court in the morning after bail was granted.
But the Chief Magistrate ordered his arrest at about 16:10 hrs (4:10 p.m.) after it was discovered that Waddell had not signed his bail form nor lodged any money with the court's clerk.
Police were last night looking for the accused.
Police yesterday arrested other controversial TV talk show host Mark Benschop and he was up to late yesterday being questioned reportedly on alleged seditious remarks on his TV programme, also on Channel Nine.
Opposition Leader, Mr Desmond Hoyte, also leader of the main Opposition People's National Congress Reform (PNC/R) and his party Chairman, Mr Robert Corbin, both lawyers, were among other attorneys-at-law in court yesterday when Waddell appeared before Mr. Fung-A-Fat.
The Chief Magistrate asked Mr Hoyte if he was there to represent Waddell and he said no.
A large crowd gathered inside and outside the Georgetown Magistrates court for the case.
Waddell was not required to enter a plea to the two counts of sedition.
Police said that on two separate occasions he uttered and published to the citizens of the country seditious speeches.
They claimed that Waddell was attempting to raise discomfort or disaffection among Guyanese citizens as well as attempting to promote feelings of ill will and hostility between different groups of Guyanese citizens.
One charge is related to remarks he allegedly made on his programme on January 17 this year when he claimed he had information that the People's Progressive Party (PPP) had distributed 1,000 AK 47's guns in the Mahaicony River and that a group was being trained in warfare there.
The Police said the purpose of this speech was "to promote feelings of ill will and hostility between different groups of Guyanese citizens."
Police said Waddell on April 9 this year also claimed the government was arming a section of the population and was using "arms in a way to terrorise, brutalise and kill (another) section of the population".
Police said this was intended to "raise discomfort or disaffection amongst Guyanese citizens."
Waddell was represented by attorneys James Patterson, Lloyd Joseph, Basil Williams, Sean Allicock, Carol Martindale Howard, Roysdale Forde and Emile Dutson.
The lawyers argued that the Prosecution had no case because it had failed to charge their client under the correct section or act, and in that respect the matter should be dismissed.
The Chief Magistrate, however, disagreed that a dismissal was appropriate, but agreed that the accused was charged under the wrong section and set surety for the prisoner at $1,000,000 until May 18 when the Prosecution will be in a better position to present a report.
Outside the courtroom, PNC/R supporters flocked the stairways and the prisoners cubicle as they awaited the outcome of the hearing.
The atmosphere became heated as the crowd began to verbally abuse members of the Police Force after learning the Police had informed Benschop, who was in the court building, that a warrant had been issued for his arrest.
Benschop was due before Magistrate Jerrick Stephney on several charges within the past few months.
As Police moved to arrest Benschop he tried to avoid being taken into custody.
A Policeman informed Benschop that an arrest warrant was out for him and a lawyer advised the cop that he could not take the TV host in without producing the warrant.
Two Policemen escorted Benschop to the lawyer's car and they drove to Brickdam Police Station, one Police vehicle in front of the lawyer's car and another behind.