`Ring leaderí of processions stoned Presidentís car - cop

Guyana Chronicle
April 16, 1998

THE woman charged with stoning President Janet Jaganís official car was a known `ring leaderí of street processions and carried a haversack of rocks during the February 26 attack, a detective sergeant testified yesterday.

Sergeant Deo Narine said he saw the accused, Patricia Jones, 28, take stones from the haversack on her stomach during the mob attack on the Presidentís car outside Parliament.

The cop said he was in plain clothes that day and was among the crowd of demonstrators.

"I was observing the defendant (Jones) because she is a known character and ring leader of processions...I have observed her at five processions", he told Magistrate Arif Bulkan.

Jones, of Roxanne Burnham Gardens, South Ruimveldt, Georgetown, is one of three persons charged following the rock attack on the President as she left after addressing the opening of the Seventh Parliament. The incident was witnessed by visiting Prime Minister of Grenada, Dr Keith Mitchell and Prime Minister Mr Owen Arthur of Barbados.

Jones is accused of throwing missiles at the Presidentís official vehicle.

Narine, the first witness as the trial opened, said he knew Jones for more than two years and had seen her about 20 times during that period.

The accused, scarred on the face from burns, was at several demonstrations around the city between December and January last, he said.

He told the court Jones, in a tee-shirt, skirt and cap, was among a crowd of about 350 persons outside Parliament. Her hair was longer and plaited then, he said.

Led through his evidence-in-chief by Assistant Superintendent of Police, Mr Oswald Massiah, the cop said he remembered Jones by her burnt face. She was on the southernmost part of the "peaceful" crowd, shouting occasionally and waving a handkerchief, he related.

"She was looking in the direction of Parliament Building, waving and said `Down with Janet! Janet must go!'" and about 50 others chanted while she waved, he said.

Narine said that at about 3:45 p.m., when the President was leaving Parliament in her car, the crowd became noisy and began shouting vociferously "Down with Janet! We want Desmond!"

As the vehicle drove out on Brickdam, Jones and several others began hurling rocks at the car.

The detective sergeant said he was about 10 feet from the accused and saw her throwing several missiles, some of which landed on President Jagan's car.

As a result of the rock attack, the Presidentís car and two escort vehicles turned north into Avenue of the Republic and drove away.

"I did not speak to her (Jones) after the stone throwing because she ran behind the vehicles in the direction of Avenue of the Republic", Narine said.

Under cross-examination by Defence Counsel, Mr Arthur Alexander, Narine said others were hurling missiles which they got from the "church yard" (opposite Parliament Buildings) and some were throwing the stones to others in the crowd.

Apart from Jones' acid-burnt face, Narine said he would recognise the woman by general appearance.

"I singled her out because on most occasions she started the chanting", he said, adding that she threw missiles at the presidential motorcade at least three times.

Narine admitted not having arrested Jones but told the Court he wrote a statement on March 19, after he was requested to do so by Senior Superintendent of Police, Mr Adams.

The statement was written the day after Jones was arrested, the witness said.

According to the cop, an arrest warrant had been issued for the defendant on March 3, but by then he had not written the statement. He had, however, reported that a burnt-faced girl had thrown missiles at President Jagan's car although he did not know her name.

Questioned about the haversack Jones was wearing, the cop said she did not have it on at all times and was not "in sight" when she put it on.

Agreeing that the demonstration was "peaceful" and void of "tension", Narine testified that as a Police officer he would have had no fear to arrest anyone. But he did not arrest Jones even though he could have if he wanted, he stated.

"I didn't think it would have been the best thing to arrest the defendant (Jones)", the witness remarked, telling the Court there were about 15-20 Policemen in the area who were in uniform as well as civilian clothing.

Narine refuted the claim that Jones was arrested because she was seen in a photograph, and is a known PNC (People's National Congress) supporter.

Re-examined by Massiah, the cop said that other persons, apart from Jones, had not been charged with throwing missiles because they were not identified.

The witness explained that he did not arrest Jones because he felt it would have been "inconvenient and would create more problems".

The case continues on April 27. (SHARON LALL)