Girl placed under police protection
- contempt and private criminal charges filed against Khan
Stabroek News
June 8, 2004

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The 13-year-old girl who is at the centre of a controversial sexual relationship with city businessman, Reeaz Khan, is being sent to the New Opportunity Corps (NOC) but has been placed under police protection until Thursday when the court proceedings resume.

Stabroek News understands that yesterday the court ordered that the child be placed under police protection until 11.30 am on Thursday when it is expected that Commander of the 'A' Division of the Guyana Police Force, Paul Slowe, will report on the security arrangements at the NOC.

This newspaper understands that the court intends to consult with appropriately qualified medical experts with a view to ensuring that the child's welfare is adequately addressed.

Attorney Nigel Hughes, appearing on behalf of the child's mother, Bibi Shameeza Hamid, yesterday informed the court that he has initiated private criminal proceedings against Khan seeking to have the businessman charged indictably under Section 89 Chapter 8:01 of the Criminal Law Offences Act with "abduction of an unmarried girl under 16 years of age."

Additionally, an application seeking to have Khan cited for contempt has been filed, Hughes told the court.

Judge dismisses child's marriage petition
Hughes told the court that at about 1.30 pm yesterday, a petition sworn to by the 13-year-old and in which she seeks the court's permission to marry Khan, was served on his chambers. The lawyer told the court that he found the contents of that petition particularly disturbing since no child can, on his or her own, petition the court for permission to marry "...unless lawful custody has been removed from that child's parent or guardian..." and there is nothing before the court, at this time, to suggest that such a scenario exists.

Hughes said that the 13-year-old, in her petition for marriage to Khan, alleges that she has suffered mental torture.

But Hughes contended that the petitioner is a minor, unemployed, a mere schoolgirl and does not have the resources to retain counsel. Nor does she "...possess the mental capacity to look after herself.

"If [the child] felt oppressed, tortured or injured...then the authority of the court ought to have been invoked [since] the court has locus parentis [in such and similar instances]," Hughes stated, adding that she does not possess the authority, legal or otherwise, to file such a petition.

The judge agreed with Hughes' submissions in this regard and promptly rejected an attempt by attorney Carol Martindale-Howard, who claimed to have been retained by a 'next friend' [guardian] on the child's behalf, to present arguments regarding the minor's petition seeking to marry Khan.

It was pointed out to Martindale-Howard, by the judge, that she ought to know the law and therefore, he [the judge] will consider her [Martindale-Howard] "...not to have even appeared before me."

Hughes asks girl's passport be seized
Hughes' further petitioned the court to have the 13-year-old's passport seized to prevent any attempts to have her removed from the jurisdiction and that an alert be placed at the relevant ports to avert any such an occurrence.

"[There] are deep concerns [regarding] the clear and present danger that this child could be removed [from the jurisdiction] by a person or persons unknown," Hughes asserted.

Stabroek News understands, however, that the child has since told the court the document has been misplaced.

Hughes told the court that according to his instructions, Khan has acted in "full and flagrant" violation of the law, especially "since the matter was still subjudice", since on May 21, he [Khan] had taken the child from her aunt's home despite instructions by the judge on the previous day that he [Khan] refrain from having any form of contact with her.

Justice Roy had, on May 20, directed that the child be released into the joint custody of her mother and maternal aunt and further, that Khan refrain from having any form of contact with the 13-year-old.

Hughes related that later during the morning of May 21, Khan's attorney, Vic Puran, had told Hamid to pick up her daughter at the Prasad's Hospital, but Khan had not turned up until 7.30 pm and had proceeded to behave in an abusive manner while attempting to have the child admitted to that and a number of other private medical institutions. Hughes said that finally, at around 11.57 pm, the businessman had handed over the child to her mother.

Hughes also noted that last Friday, Khan and the 13-year-old had failed to appear in court as scheduled, for a report on what had transpired in the interim period between then and the last court date, May 20. He pointed out that on May 20, Khan's attorney had sought the court's leave to file an affidavit in answer to Hamid's affidavit but that to date, no such document has been served on his [Hughes'] chambers.

Khan's attorney not filing affidavit
At this stage, the judge indicated that Khan's attorney had approached him and had indicated that he [the attorney] no longer wished to file such an affidavit.

Nonetheless, Hughes related, in further violation of the court's order, the minor had left her aunt's home on May 29 and according to his [Hughes'] information had subsequently travelled to Trinidad and Tobago.

Hughes said that he has since spoken with Interpol in that country and has been assured that investigations to ascertain certain details are in progress.

Stabroek News has since learnt that Hughes has also written to the Commissioner of Police for T&T, Everald Snaggs, apprising him of the details of the case and seeking his assistance in acquiring specific details regarding that information.

Hughes expressed the view that the absence of corresponding applications relevant to Khan's alleged contempt did not in any way limit the court from acting within its power.

Hughes declared: "Disobedience of the court's order is a grave matter... this is indeed a sad day."

The court, meanwhile, has granted Hughes' request for the order relevant to the habeas corpus proceedings to be made absolute.

Hughes, referring to paragraphs 11 and 12 of Minister of Human Services and Social Security, Bibi Shadick's affidavit in response to Hamid's affidavit, said that the ministry had in essence failed to properly protect the child.

He said those paragraphs, which claim that the ministry had received "tacit approval" from the child's mother to transport her to the Mahaica Children's Home, amounted to an admission that the officials at that facility had "facilitated the removal and escape" of the child after she had been taken there.

In paragraph 11 of the minister's affidavit, she claims that the child had been taken to the Mahaica Children's Home on May 6 with the "tacit approval" of her mother and in paragraph 12, it is stated that the child had subsequently appeared in the High Court [after her mother filed habeas corpus proceedings] on May 20, in the company of Khan.

Initially, Shadick's legal representative from the Attorney General's chambers raised objections to what he deemed Hughes' "insinuations" but the judge did not allow the objections on the basis that the argument raised by Hughes in relation to the "offensive" paragraphs was legally substantial.

Judge unhappy with some media coverage
On another note, the judge expressed displeasure with the coverage of the controversy as appearing in certain sections of the media on Saturday. Justice Roy said that he was particularly upset about a headline in one section of the media and part of an article in another section of the media.

The judge reiterated that it is necessary for the media to maintain "accurate and responsible" coverage of the controversy and repeated his earlier warning that should the media fail to follow his caution, the court would be forced to issue an order restricting its coverage of the case.