I have been waiting over four years for trial
Stabroek News
March 22, 2002

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Dear Editor,

In January 1998, I was placed in prison on remand awaiting trial for an offence for which I was charged, and for which I was later vindicated. However, during my period of remand I was taken out of prison on the 3rd to 4th of February of the same year to attend court to answer another charge on this occasion the charge was murder, which became known as "The Unity Gas Station Murder" in Mahaica East Coast Demerara.

On the 19th November 1998, I was indicted and committed to stand trial in the High Court at the Demerara Assizes of January 1999. This decision was handed down by the presiding magistrate who found cause/reasons and made out a prima facie case against me. The year 1999 passed without a trial, even though I was listed for a specified session which had never materialized.

In the year 2000 I wrote two letters, one to President Bharrat Jagdeo and one to the DPP Mr Hanoman Singh respectively, professing my innocence and requesting an early trial. These letters were not answered.

On the 10th October 2000, myself and four other inmates namely Mr. Cladwin Sam, Imtiaz Ali, Patrick Gunraj and Sean Ghop took to the roof of the Georgetown Prisons to protest for early trial dates. This move had caused much alarm to the prison authorities and the public, it also afforded us the opportunity to speak personally with the DPP Mr. Hanoman Singh, the Director of Prisons Mr Dale Erskine and another senior official of the prison Mr. Colin Howard, who gave us the assurance that our matters would have been granted a hearing at these Sessions.

This commitment by Mr. Hanoman Singh and Mr Dale Erskine was accepted in good faith and had created an environment of trust between all concerned. This trust was even cemented when the prison authorities made good in their promise by granting Claudius Sam a speedy trial and dispensation of this matter in April 2001.

The others had high hopes for the remaining sessions of that year. However, this process failed to yield the desired results, and on July 12th 2001, myself and fifteen other inmates, in an attempt to pressure the slow working administration to hasten things along, remounted the prison roof in a further intensified protest which yielded a resounding response. The remainder of the year's sessions gave way to a fulfilment of the administration's promise and a continued assertion of case listings and dispensation. For this I give the Prison Administration a plus, for justice must not only appear to be done but must be done.

For my part to date justice is elusive.

I had been listed to stand trial at previous sessions like my predecessors but am still awaiting trial. This blatant and unacceptable marginalisation can only be seen as a personal attack by the administration of justice towards me and for this I demand an explanation. The January 2002 sessions will conclude at month end and it is more disturbing since it is common knowledge that there is a shortage of judges in the High Court.

I also wish to express my deepest dissatisfaction at the way the DPP and the Supreme Court Registry are handling case listings.

It has been four years and three months since I was separated from my family and this might very well be needlessly and punishing longer. And while time goes by my wife and three children suffer the agony of being neglected due to no fault of my own. For my part I suffer the same neglect by a reform which is beginning to look like Peter pay for all and sundry.

Come on Justice Minister, do your job. Law makers and law keepers, it is time to put your houses in order. That is the only way justice will be served. I wish to make this both a local and international appeal to all concerned. Let us work hard for the preservation of international justice and reap the benefits of global peace and stability throughout the world.

Since the recent jail break I have been stripped naked and locked away in a cell, being penalized for the escapees since they were my friends and one was my brother in law.

Yours faithfully,

Dillon George