The businessman and the 13-year-old
Khan to answer private criminal charges tomorrow
Stabroek News
June 9, 2004

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City businessman, Reeaz Khan, is set to appear at the Wales Magistrate's Court tomorrow to answer private criminal charges, reliable sources told Stabroek News yesterday.

Khan has been involved in a controversial sexual relationship with a 13-year-old girl whose mother alleges that despite a High Court order obtained against him on May 20, the businessman abducted her daughter on two occasions and then refused to let the child return home.

Attorney Nigel Hughes, who is representing the child's mother, Bibi Shameeza Hamid, on Monday initiated private criminal proceedings against the businessman in a bid to have him charged "indictably" under Section 89 of the Criminal Law Offences Act, Chapter 8:01 with "abduction of an unmarried girl under the age of 16 years." The lawyer, on the same day, also filed an application seeking to have Khan cited for contempt and Stabroek News understands that this matter is scheduled to come up in the High Court next Monday.

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

Meanwhile, the child, who turned up at the High Court on Monday and through attorney Carol Martindale-Howard attempted unsuccessfully to present a petition seeking to marry Khan, is being sent to the New Opportunity Corps.

The court, on Monday, further directed that she be placed under police protection until tomorrow at 11.30 am when it is expected that Commander of 'A' Division of the Guyana Police Force, Paul Slowe, will report on the security arrangements at the Onderneeming, Essequibo facility.

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.

Justice Roy had also, on Monday, granted Hughes' request to have the order in relation to the habeas corpus proceedings against the Ministry of Human Services and Social Security be made absolute.

Hughes had contended that the ministry had failed to adequately protect the child when it had sent her to the Mahaica Children's Home. The lawyer had argued that certain paragraphs of Minister Bibi Shadick's affidavit in response to Hamid's affidavit, support that contention by indicating that they had sent the child to the facility on May 6 with only "tacit approval" from her mother and further, that the child had thereafter turned up at the High Court on May 20 [after her mother filed habeas corpus proceedings], in the company of Khan.

The case has sparked a public outcry by numerous rights' groups and individuals and calls have been issued for the age of consent in Guyana to be raised from 13 years to at least 16 years.

President Bharrat Jagdeo and various ministers of his government have since responded affirmatively to the calls for legislation to be put in place to elevate the age of consent in order to protect the nation's children.

The 13-year-old, meanwhile, sat quietly through Monday's court proceedings and did not speak to her mother or any other relative present, but communicated briefly with Martindale-Howard before entering the judge's chambers for the in-camera session. She later left with Police Commander Slowe.

The child also distributed a 92-point statement - that contained several allegations against her mother - to members of the media.