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Seven Venezuelans deported

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Seven Venezuelans were detained at her Majesty’s Prison until they are deported from these shores. Last Monday, the men appeared before Senior Magistrate, Carl Joseph at the Kingstown Magistrate’s Court on two charges of unlawfully entering St. Vincent and the Grenadines without notifying Customs as to the expected time of arrival; and entering the state, being prohibited immigrants.{{more}}

The seven charged were Victor Velasquez, Pedro Diaz, Jacinto Martin, Robert Contrera, Eblis Bonillo, Juan Jose Garcia and Aneisic Chacon.

With the aid of a translator, the charges were read to each man. Six of them pleaded not guilty to the first charge, but Master of the Vessel, Victor Velasquez pleaded guilty. On the second charge all seven entered a guilty plea.

Velasquez, being the vessel’s commander was fined $2000 forthwith or six months in jail.

The court heard that on the June 7 2006, at approximately 2 a.m., members of Coast Guard unit and Rapid Response Unit (RRU) in a joint operation were on patrol just off the Chateaubelair port area. It was said that the law officials saw an unmarked boat travelling and ordered it to stop, but the occupants of the boat refused to do so and sped away. The Coast Guard vessel gave chase and the occupants of the boat opened gunfire, to which the coast guard and RRU personnel returned fire. Moments later, the speedboat stopped and all seven men were taken into custody.

Defense Counsel, Bertram Stapleton told the court that his clients had been looking for a lost fishing vessel, but they encountered engine problems and lost their way, hence they wound up inthe waters of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. Stapleton claimed that the men were severely beaten by the officers. “These officers seem like they have lost all sense of humanity,” said Stapleton.

Stapleton also mentioned that one of his clients had a badly bruised eye as one of the officers forced his fingers around his eye almost plucking it out. “You cannot find a more inhumane action,” Stapleton said.

The defense lawyer entered a submission that his clients be deported without any further sanctions other than being reprimanded and discharged. Two other charges of resisting arrest and assault on a police officer were dropped.

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