Guns, ammunition container find
US-based Guyanese, other refused bail
December 22, 1999
Two businessmen were refused bail yesterday when they appeared before Chief Magistrate, Paul Fung-A-Fat, to answer charges in connection with the discovery last Thursday of a cache of arms and ammunition in a container on the John Fernandes Limited Wharf.
Peter Morgan, owner of Morgan's Auto Sales, of 34 Oleander Gardens and Nandkumar Budhan called John Budhan, a US-based Guyanese whose local address was given as 87 Middle Road La Penitence, both pleaded not guilty to two joint charges of attempting to import concealed goods and being knowingly concerned in the importation of restricted goods. Both charges were filed summarily under the Customs Act.
The allegations are that the two attempted to import 14 guns. Among these were semi-automatic pistols and pump action rifles, and more than 3,600 rounds of various calibre ammunition.
Inspector Faye Bremner, prosecuting, disclosed that acting on information received, police conducted a search of a 20-foot container on the John Fernandes Wharf last Thursday. A thorough examination unearthed the guns and ammunition stashed in the body of a Toyota Tacoma pick-up and the container. The two defendants were subsequently arrested and charged with the offences.
Morgan has retained Senior Counsel Ian Chang, while Budhan is being represented by attorney-at-law Vic Puran.
Chang in his bail application noted that the cases were filed summarily under the Customs Act and were bailable. However, Bremner objected to bail being granted citing the prevalence of the offence and the possibility of more charges being laid against the two.
The two defence counsel hotly contested this. Puran argued that the police had a whole week to file charges and if there were any additional offences, his client would have already been charged with these. Chang submitted that bail should not be used by the police as a pre-trial form of punishment. In spite of this, the magistrate yielded to Bremner's arguments and refused bail. The case continues on Friday.
The arrests of these two follow closely on the heels of two others. On Wednesday, Morgan's bother, Terrence Morgan of Lot 9 Oleander Gardens and two relatives, Nevitta Khan and Jaiprakash Shivdass--a brother and a sister, appeared before Magistrate Elizabeth Hinds at the Sparendaam Magistrate's Court. The three were remanded to prison after being read a joint charge of unlawful possession of ammunition. It is alleged that they were caught with more than 13,000 rounds of various calibre ammunition at a house in Beterverwagting, East Coast Demerara. The case continues today at that court.
The previous day, a 48-year-old woman and her son from 96 Ocean View, Uitvlugt, West Coast Demerara, were granted $25,000 and $75,000 bail respectively after a police raid netted more than 200 rounds of ammunition and in excess of $13 million in local and foreign currencies. That matter has been transferred to the Leonora Magistrate's Court for a hearing on December 23.
This newspaper understands that a close watch is being kept at all ports of entry as the police intensify their investigations into what they believe is a major arms and ammunition smuggling ring. The police have also sought the assistance of Interpol in discovering the origin of the arms and ammunition. (Leonard Gildarie)
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