ormer President and current Opposition Leader of Guyana, Bharrat Jagdeo, speaking to the media. (Facebook image)
Compiled By NAN Staff Writer
News Americas, NEW YORK, NY, Fri. Mar. 10, 2017: A former Caribbean head of state, who in delivering the 18th Annual Eric E. Williams Memorial Lecture last October in Florida, said Donald Trump’s woeful unpreparedness to effectively function in the international arena would be anathema to the most basic of Caribbean interests, has been arrested. Here are 8 things you should know about the arrest of this former CARICOM head of state.
1: The former CARICOM head of state arrested this week is Former President of Guyana Bharrat Jagdeo.
2: The former President and current Opposition Leader was arrested, questioned and released by investigators at the headquarters of the Special Organised Crime Unit (SOCU), Camp Street-based, Georgetown headquarters of the Guyana Police Force Unit on March 7, 2017, according to the Demerara Waves web news, by SOCU’s Head, Assistant Commissioner Sydney James.
3: His arrest and questioning reportedly is in connection with his acquisition of seaside housing land at Ogle-Sparendaam, East Coast Demerara, where the former President owns a multi-million dollar mansion in what is called ‘Pradoville 2.’
4: Jagdeo has said after his release he invoked presidential immunity when he was questioned by investigators of the SOCU. “They asked me several questions relating to the Pradoville transaction and I made a short statement because they asked me questions in my official capacity and I have immunities on those and so I refused to answer those questions,” Jagdeo, who served as President from 1999 to 2011, told reporters according to the Demerara Waves, shortly after spending less than two hours in custody.
Guyana’s constitutional provision on the immunity of current and former presidents states “The holder of the office of President shall not be personally answerable to any court for the performance of the function of his or her office or for any act done in the performance of those functions and no proceedings whether criminal or civil, shall be instituted against him or her in his or her personal capacity in respect thereof either during his or her term of office or thereafter.”
5 Also arrested were former head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon for “conspiracy to commit a felony to wit fraudulent misappropriation of State property related to Pradoville 2;” former Natural Resources Minister Robert Persaud and the daughter of former President Donald Ramotar Lisaveta Ramotar, who is General Manager of the Guyana Gold Board. More former ministers are set to be hauled in.
6: Jagdeo has not stayed silent on social media. At 2:23 p.m. on March 7th, Jagdeo took to Facebook stating: “They will not scare us, they will not break us, we will fight. Political vindictiveness of a desperate government who has failed the Guyanese people miserably and are now looking for a distraction.”
At 3:11 p.m., also on March 7th, he posted photos of former head of the Presidential Secretariat, Dr. Roger Luncheon on a walker going into the SOCU HQ with the caption: “The arrest of Dr. Luncheon is an act of desperation of a failed regime.”
And at 3:37 p.m. he took to Facebook again and posted: “I’m back at my office. Thanks for your concern and support.”
He has insisted that the arrests are on a political witch hunt via SOCU.
7: The arrest comes after a forensic audit completed by the current APNU-AFC- led coalition government into the land deal in the Pradoville area, found that the recipients underpaid for the sea side lands by more than GUY$250 million (One Guyana dollar =US$0.004 cents). The report noted that in 2010, the then PPP/Civic government, through the National Industrial and Commercial Investments Limited (NICIL), also spent more than GUY$200 million to develop the area.
8: The Guyana government has denied in a statement denied that SOCU is being used to target its opponents.