Lethem businessman remanded to prison over illegal airstrip

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…slapped with conspiracy charge

A prominent Lethem businessman, who was named as the prime suspect in the recently concluded Commission of Inquiry (CoI) into the construction of an illegal airstrip in Rupununi, Region Nine, was on Monday slapped with a conspiracy charge.

The illegal aircraft which landed in Region Nine

Hutashan Ramsingh of Tabatinga, Lethem was not required to plead to the indictable charge, which stated that between August 10 and August 13, 2017 at Mandacoro Island Savannah (Region-Nine) he conspired with persons unknown to facilitate the illegal landing of an aircraft at an unauthorized port of entry.

Defence Attorney Jerome Khan, in bail application at the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, related that his client is a father of two, owner of a construction and transportation company in Lethem-with no prior antecedents or pending matters before the courts.

Bail was nonetheless refused after a strong objection by the prosecution. As such Ramsingh was remanded to prison until March 5, 2018 when the case will be called at the Lethem Magistrate’s Court.

In August of this year, an abandoned Brazilian-registered Kingair Beechcraft PR-1MG was discovered on an illegal airstrip in the vicinity of Santa Fe, Rupunini. The aircraft, which is reported to have been involved in the trafficking of guns and drugs was seized by local authorities.

Following the investigations, Ramsingh and two other residents of Lethem-Wazim King, 37, and Nathan Hamilton, 21-were flown to Georgetown to assist with investigations.  Ramsingh was released on $50,000 station bail while King and Hamilton were hauled before the courts to be charged for a similar offence of conspiracy to commit a felony. They are presently out on $400,000 bail and the case is before the Lethem Magistrate’s Court.

When the duo first appeared before the Georgetown Magistrates’ Courts, their lawyers, Michael Somersaul and Jerome Khan had contended that their clients have no knowledge that the airstrip or airplane being illegal, since they were merely hired by Ramsingh for the building of a “road”. The lawyers had bemoaned the release of Ramsingh and blasted the Police for “covering up” whose investigations left much to be desired.

However, on Monday, Khan indicated that his client, Ramsingh, had merely rented out a bobcat and some equipment which was used to grade the airstrip. King was alleged to have been the bobcat driver while Hamilton was hired to operate the said machinery.

Following his release in September, the Police had contended that Ramsingh had fled the jurisdiction, but his lawyer sought to refute this claim by contending that Ramsingh became fearful for his life and was keeping a low profile working in the savannahs after he heard that some people were looking to kill him.

Earlier this month, a team of detectives travelled to Lethem to escort him to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) headquarters in the city as part of the probe.

The findings of the CoI alleged that he had been seen with his vehicle frequenting the area before the plane had landed. Moreover, reports indicate that Singh had been also involved in similar cases of illegal aircraft landings in other areas in the region namely Parabara, Manwar, Mountain Point and Mandakara Airstrip.

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